By Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent
25 Nov 2011
Criminals who commit offenses online and cyber bullies will be banned from the internet as part of the Government’s new cyber security strategy, announced today
It calls for police and courts to make more use of existing “cyber sanctions” to restrict access to the social networks and instant messaging services in cases of hacking, fraud and online bullying. Sex offenders and those convicted of harrassment or anti-social behaviour also face more internet restrictions under the new strategy.
Similar orders have been imposed on those charged with involvement in a series of cyber attacks by the Anonymous and LulzSec groups earlier this year, while they await trial.
Cyber sanctions were also used following the riots this summer. Two teenagers in Dundee were banned from the web for inciting riots via Facebook.
Officials are now looking into whether “cyber tag” technology could be used to monitor offenders and report to authorities if break their bail or sentence conditions by using the internet.
“The Ministry of Justice and the Home Office will consider and scope the development of a new way of enforcing these orders, using ‘cyber-tags’ which are triggered by the offender breaching the conditions that have been put on their internet use, and which will automatically inform the police or probation service,” cyber security strategy said.
It added that if the regime is a success restrictions on internet use could be imposed on “a wider group of offenders”.
Police forces across the country will also follow the example of the Met’s Police Central e-Crime Unit by recruiting “cyber specials”; internet experts will be encouraged to volunteer as special constables to help investigate online crime.
The four-year strategy is also designed to address cyber espionage and attacks from states such as China and Russia and “patriotic” hackers.
GCHQ, Britain’s eavesdropping agency, is to receive around £385m of the total £650m budget to develop its ability to detect, defend and fight back online. The problem of discovering the true source of a cyber attack will be among the top priorities for the Cheltenham-based agency’s experts, as well as developing “tactics and techniques” for online conflict in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence’s new cyber unit.
GCHQ will also declassify and commercialise some of its cyber technology to help the private sector improve its security online, as part of a broader effort to increase cooperation between government and industry. Other measures with include a new “hub” for information sharing to allow the security services to share information on cyber threats with major infrastructure firms such as BT, Barclays and utilities companies.
“This strategy not only deals with the threat from terrorists to our national security, but also with the criminals who threaten our prosperity as well as blight the lives of many ordinary people through cyber crime,” said David Cameron.
Terrorists are not believed to yet have the ability to launch damaging cyber attacks against critical infrastructure such as water and power stations, but they are thought to have discussed such operations.