Britain is using cyber warfare in the bid to retake Mosul from Islamic State forces, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has revealed.
Speaking at an international conference on waging war through advanced technology, Sir Michael made it clear Britain was unleashing its cyber capability on IS, also known as Daesh.
Asked if the UK was launching cyber attacks in the bid to take the northern Iraqi city from IS, the Defence Secretary said: "I'm not going into operational specifics, but yes, you know we are conducting military operations against Daesh as part of the international coalition, and I can confirm that we are using offensive cyber for the first time in this campaign."
Sir Michael told the cyber warfare conference, organised by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), that the UK was preparing itself for a significant assault.
"It is only a matter of time before we have to deal with a major attack on UK interests.
"Last year GCHQ detected twice as many national security level cyber incidents - 200 a month - as the year before.
"We know hostile actors are already developing and deploying advanced capabilities.
"Our cyber adversaries can target us anywhere on the planet, not only stealing our information to exploit, coerce, or gain psychological advantage over us, but potentially dealing a sucker punch to our systems, disrupting our armaments, or our energy supplies, even our government systems.
"That's why Her Majesty's Government is investing £1.9 billion - almost double the previous levels of investment - to protect the UK from attack, to keep ahead of the curve," he said.
The Defence Secretary announced £265 million is being pumped into "rooting out cyber vulnerabilities" in military and wider cyber dependent systems to try to counter the growing threat.