About bloody time! The U.S. and U.K. are joining forces to “impose consequences” on their shared adversaries who conduct malicious cyber-activities. As I have said on previous occasions when blatantly obvious solutions are finally adopted, “About bloody time”.

     The announcement said the combined action would address “evolving threats with a full range of capabilities”. The shared adversaries were not named but the announcement follows increasing concern over Russia-based ransomware.

     The plan was discussed last week at an annual meeting of both countries’ intelligence chiefs.

They “reaffirmed” their commitment to jointly disrupt and deter new and emerging cyber-threats. As democratic nations, the two countries were committing to carry out proportionate and necessary operations within the law, they said.

     “About bloody time”.

     I would question the caveat of “within the law” since their adversaries do not play by any rules, let alone laws!

     The U.S. and U.K. are stepping up efforts to strike back in cyber-space – or at least they are becoming more public about their plans. I would actually be amazed if they haven’t been doing it quietly for some time. They are also making clear that the long-standing intelligence partnership will be/is translated into offensive operations online. The U.S. strategy of “persistent engagement” means contesting foreign adversaries day-to-day in cyber-space to try to make it harder for them to operate. The U.K. does not use the same language but, with the launch of the National Cyber Force, it has signalled it is doing the same – trying to knock out ransomware groups’ infrastructure, for example, or make it harder for foreign intelligence agencies to carry out espionage or more destructive attacks.

     “Our two nations today face strategic threats in an interconnected, digital world that seeks to undermine our shared principles, norms, and values,” the Chiefs stated. “We agree that strategic engagement in cyber-space is crucial to defending our way of life, by addressing these evolving threats with a full range of capabilities. We will achieve this by planning enduring combined cyber-space operations that enable a collective defence and deterrence, and impose consequences on our common adversaries who conduct malicious cyber-activity.”

     This collaborative strategy comes as Russia’s Vladimir Putin seems hell-bent on using his power to cause as much disruption in the West as possible, and to wage a more-and-more controlling war against his own people. A recent lead article in “The Economist” (November 13-19, 2021) highlights Putin’s agenda.

     I have long maintained (see several previous blogs) that I do not understand why we seem to consistently forget that Putin was groomed as KGB, was KGB, is KGB, is possibly there for life, and has always had the goal of re-establishing the old Soviet Union. AND, he’s not getting any younger. He is therefore running out of time to achieve his dream. A very dangerous combination. AND, he is obviously behind the work of the ransomware groups – they could not possibly operate inside Russia without his blessing.

     Let’s hope the new public initiative of the U.S. and the U.K. not only sends the right message to Putin but also, and far more importantly, has the teeth and courage to act decisively and quickly. The laws of the U.S. and U.K. be damned, at least in covert operations.

     To repeat, “About Bloody Time”.

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