According to The Times, the use of hacking software in response to the poisoning of the former officer of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) in Salisbury may well be a possible scenario.
The Ministry of Defense and the Government Communications Headquarters are planning to accelerate and expand their offensive cybercapability, including the development of a joint malicious cyberprogram, in the coming years, the publication said.
Cyberoperations against Russia may include attacks on the Kremlin's computer networks, websites publishing "fake news" and other targets, according to the media outlet.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday that it was "highly likely" that Russia was responsible for the suspected poisoning of Skripal. May said that the substance used in the poisoning was identified as a Novichok class, military-grade nerve agent developed in Russia. In an ultimatum to Russia, May demanded an explanation for the poisoning by the end of Tuesday and threatened to apply harsh response measures.
READ MORE: Australia Joins UK, US in Accusing Russia of 'NotPetya' Cyberattack
Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious last week on a bench at a shopping center in Salisbury. Both of them remain in critical condition and are being treated for suspected exposure to a chemical.
In 2006, Skripal was sentenced in Russia to 13 years in prison for cooperating with the UK Secret Intelligence Service MI6 and transferring names of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe. In 2010, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree pardoning Skripal, with the latter then moving to the United Kingdom.