Government sources have reportedly said the Prime Minister Boris Johnston is considering a range of responses to the killing of a British national last week, including a possible cyber response.
Last Thursday, the crew onboard the Israel-owned tanker Mercer Street heard the noise of a flying drone followed by explosions, as a hole was blasted through the top of the vessel.
A drone was reportedly packed with explosives that detonated on impact. The explosion killed an unnamed British security guard and a Romanian sailor.
Israel, the UK and the United States have blamed Iran for carrying out the attack, and London has summoned the Iranian ambassador to protest.
Iran for its part has denied it carried out the drone strike, but the UK, US and Israel are reportedly working on how to respond to killing of the British national.
Government sources told the Sun newspaper that a “range of options” was being drawn up for retaliation.
A senior defence source said the most likely would be in cyberspace, warning “nobody will see it here but they will be left in no doubt you cannot kill a Brit unchecked”.
“A British national was killed and we have to make clear there are certain lines that can’t be crossed,” a Foreign Office insider reportedly said.
Meanwhile a Special Forces team has reportedly flown out to join the stricken tanker and have taken charge of the investigation.
The PM said Iran should “face up to the consequences of what they have done” and called on them to “respect freedoms of navigation”.
The UK is known to have build up its cyber offensive capabilities over the past decade.
In 2018 the UK admitted that it had conducted a major offensive cyber-campaign against the Islamic State terrorist group.
It came after an official report from the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) in December 2017 revealed that the UK has more than doubled the number of its offensive cyber-capabilities in recent years.
The UK has also been steadily increasing its cyber funding.
Between 2011 and 2016, the Government had allocated £860m to the National Cyber Security Programme, and for the five years from 2016 to 2021, the Government significantly increased funding and allocated £1.9bn for the new National Cyber Security Strategy.
Last December, Ciaran Martin, the former boss of the UK’s cyber guardian, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), urged government restraint over its cyber offensive capabilities.
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