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UK: States Attacked in Cyberspace Have Right to Self-Defense – Military Official

© REUTERS / Kacper Pempel/Files A man types on a computer keyboard
A man types on a computer keyboard - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The United Kingdom believes that countries targeted by cyberattacks can resort to the right of self-defense to retaliate against the state which attacked them, UK Attorney General Jeremy Wright said on Wednesday.

"The UK considers it is clear that cyber operations that result in, or present an imminent threat of, death and destruction on an equivalent scale to an armed attack will give rise to an inherent right to take action in self-defence, as recognised in Article 51 of the UN Charter," Wright said in his speech at Chatham House Royal Institute for International affairs, the original script of which was published on the UK government website.

If some country meddles with the operation of a UK nuclear reactor which results subsequently in the loss of life, such an action would be considered by the UK authorities as the illegal use of force or an armed attack against the country.

READ MORE: 'NSA Dominates Surveillance, Sabotage' in Cyberspace — German Newspaper

"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 attorney general explained.

Air National Guard soldiers monitor computer screens - Sputnik International
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Authorities of multiple countries have recently started implementing measures to tackle cybersecurity issues. This area came into the spotlight after a series of major cyberattacks hit infrastructure and individual users across the world, including in the United Kingdom, in 2017.

As for the United Kingdom, it launched a National Cyber Security Strategy, including the establishment of the National Cyber Security Centre, in 2016. The UK government is spending 1.9 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) to boost the country’s cybersecurity as part of this strategy.

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