LONDON: The British government is set to launch a new 250 million pounds cyber-force unit to help combat terrorist groups, criminal gangs and hostile states, a media report said on Friday.
The taskforce, to be set by the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), will be made up of around 2,000 recruits from the military and security services industry, almost quadrupling the number of people in current offensive cyber-crime roles in the country, The Times reports.
The unit will take on and monitor domestic crime groups as well as hostile states such as Russia and terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS).
It is expected to be announced soon and follows a review ordered by UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, the newspaper said.
A government spokesperson said: "The MoD and GCHQ have a long and proud history of working together. We are both committed to continuing to invest in this area, given the real threats the UK faces.
" The unit will be given the initial working name of "joint cyber-force" and have its own headquarters at possible MoD sites of Royal Air Force Wyton in Cambridgeshire and MoD Corsham in Wiltshire.
Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ described as the UK intelligence's listening post, said: "With some nation states (and) criminal groups behaving very aggressively, you do need some capability to be destructive yourself in a targeted way to stop some of those things happening.
" The plans for the new cyber-force emerged as present and former intelligence officers shared some insight into cyber-tactics Britain used against ISIS in Syria and Iraq with the newspaper.
"The military used malware to block terrorists' access to data, disseminated fake news stories to confuse fanatics, and disrupted cash transactions," the report claims.
"The operation also involved the dissemination of fake news to sow confusion among Islamic State's supporters and techniques to disrupt the terrorists' cash transactions.
Measures that interfered with the group's funding and logistics made it harder for it to pay its militants and buy weapons, ammunition, food and supplies," it adds.
Analysts believe that the disappearance of 'Rumiyah', a monthly online ISIS propaganda publication that was translated into 10 languages, may have been thanks to offensive cyber-operations undertaken by Western allies.