GCHQ, NSA chiefs recommit to counter cyber threats

UK and US intelligence services reaffirm a joint commitment to disrupt and deter new and emerging cyber threats

GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming has reaffirmed a joint commitment with his US counterpart to “disrupt and deter” new and emerging cyber security threats.

Fleming, alongside Paul Sanders, commander of UK Strategic Command, met with National Security Agency (NSA) director and US Cyber Command head Paul Nakasone in a session at the annual Cyber Management Review forum hosted at the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.

The Cyber Management Review symposium is an opportunity for the UK and US to shape their intelligence relationship, develop improved cyber capabilities, improve defences, and impost common costs on malicious actors, and this year’s event comes against a backdrop of relentless cyber attacks that have elevated issues such as supply chain security and ransomware into the popular consciousness.

The allies said they remained committed to “carrying out operations under world-leading legal frameworks to ensure anything we do is legal, proportionate and necessary”.

“As like-minded allies for two centuries, the United Kingdom and the United States share a close and enduring relationship,” said Fleming and Nakasone in a joint statement. “Our two nations today face strategic threats in an interconnected, digital world that seek to undermine our shared principles, norms and values.

“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. To carry this out, we will continue to adapt, innovate, partner and succeed against evolving threats in cyber space.

“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.

“As democratic cyber nations, the UK and US are committed to doing so in a responsible way in line with international law and norms, setting the example for responsible state behaviour in cyber space.”

The joint declaration comes hot on the heels of the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC’s) annual review, in which the GCHQ-backed cyber agency reflected on its work alongside the UK’s Five Eyes partners (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US) on joint approaches to fighting malicious activity, and enhancing cyber resilience within the alliance.

Besides collaborating with the UK’s core intelligence allies, the NCSC has also been playing a lead role in furthering the UK government’s global cyber leadership goals.

Among other things, in the past 12 months it initiated the first International Specification Group (ISG) focused on securing artificial intelligence, worked alongside the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) on data supply chain security, supported the work of the United Nations Government Group of Experts on State Behaviour in Cyberspace, and sponsored the first cohort of participants in the UK-Gulf Women in Cyber Fellowship.

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