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Countries behind cyber attacks face being ‘named and shamed’ by UK

Attorney General Jeremy Wright will put the UK’s position on the record for the first time.

The UK will take “necessary and proportionate action” to respond to online interference in elections as part of the Government’s approach to policing cyberspace.

Russia, North Korea and other states behind cyber assaults face being named and shamed under the Government’s doctrine.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright will say attempts to bring down critical infrastructure such as air traffic control towers through online attacks should be treated under international law in the same way as if they were targeted in bombing raids.

In a major speech he will set out on the record for the first time the Government’s position on applying international law to cyberspace.

He will stress that cyberspace cannot be a lawless world and states must set out what they see as the “rules of the road”.

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Jeremy Wright will say cyberspace cannot be a lawless world (Victoria Jones/PA)

The senior law officer will tell the Chatham House foreign affairs think tank: “If it would be a breach of international law to bomb an air traffic control tower with the effect of downing civilian aircraft, then it will be a breach of international law to use a hostile cyber operation to disable air traffic control systems which results in the same, ultimately lethal, effects.”

The Government’s “name and shame” approach has already seen North Korean-linked hackers blamed for the WannaCry ransomware attack which hit NHS computers in 2017.

In February, the Government blamed Russia for the June 2017 NotPetya attack.

Russia was also blamed for the hack of the US Democratic National Committee emails in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.

Officials said Mr Wright will use his speech to stress the UK views online interference in another state’s elections which has the effect of altering the results as “prohibited”,  and the states affected have a right to take necessary and proportionate action to stop it.

As well as putting the UK position on cyberspace and international law on public record for the first time, the Attorney General will emphasise the UK is continuing to be involved with shaping governance online.

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