Britain warns against state-sponsored cyberattacks

AP News

11/2/2011 2:36:48 PM - AP News

British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned foreign governments against state-sponsored cyberattacks Wednesday, hinting at a more confrontational approach if they don't stop.

Hague, who was speaking at the close of a two-day conference on cybersecurity, was careful not to identify any countries by name, even when asked repeatedly about China.

He told reporters in London that Britain had not hosted a "judgmental conference" where participants sat around pointing fingers.

"It hasn't been our approach in this conference to identify other countries and try to name and shame them," he said, before adding: "That may happen on other occasions."

In recent months a string of British officials have warned of the threat to the nation's electronic infrastructure from foreign hackers, with much of the suspicion falling on Russia and China.

Earlier this week former security minister Pauline Neville-Jones, who now serves as the prime minister's representative to business on cybersecurity, said Beijing and Moscow were "certainly" involved in that sort of activity.

In earlier comments on online censorship, Hague was more direct.

Asked about a Russo-Chinese proposal for an Internet "code of conduct," Hague said those countries' attitudes toward free speech didn't match his own.

He predicted that governments who attempted to resist "the tide that is flowing toward greater transparency and accountability" would fail.

Hague said he wouldn't seek to square Chinese or Russian Internet policies with Britain's, explaining that it was up to others to "square themselves" with free expression and an open Web.