Robert Hannigan, the Director of the signals intelligence and cryptography agency of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British intelligence agency, warns that terrorist organizations could soon bring major cities to a standstill with the click of a button. The intelligence director claims that well-established nation states are currently developing cyber programs that could attack advanced nations and fears that terrorist organizations are working to get their hands on these programs.
Hannigan is confident that terrorists groups will have the ability to cripple cities with a cyber attack. He states it is only a matter of time before they have the capabilities to pull off such an attack and that creating a counter-plan is of the utmost importance. He spoke about the possibility of a terrorist-led cyber attack at the Cheltenham Science festival stating:
“At some stage they will get the capability…There are certainly states and groups with the intent to do it, terrorist groups, for example, who have no threshold when it comes to the loss of life.”
He states it is not time to panic yet, but the possibility of a cyber attack grows with each passing day. As more and more physical items and household appliances become connected to the internet the more likely, and dangerous, a cyber attack becomes.
Many critics claim these are empty threats. It’s believed that Hannigan is simply fear-mongering in order to justify mass data gathering on citizens of the UK. Hannigan has countered that argument by saying that seven attacks against the UK have been foiled in just 18 months thanks to bulk data analysis that revealed plans for terrorist attacks.