Al Qaeda is using the web to plan a “cyber jihad” against the UK and other western nations, the government warned yesterday.

The Al Qaeda cyber threat came as Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled the Government's new counter-terrorism strategy, which suggests that the use of the internet and social media are “commonplace” when spreading radical ideas.

A 123-page document warns that attacks on computer systems will most likely increase, and that the use of social networking to spread information is on the rise.

"Since the death of Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda has explicitly called not only for acts of lone or individual terrorism but also for 'cyber-jihad'," said the document.

The document also said that there have been numerous attempts by extremists to “invade” Facebook. According to Defence Secretary Liam Fox, the Defence Department has dealt with over 1,000 “potentially serious” cyber attacks to in the past year alone.

But Facebook is not the only site vulnerable to attack.

"Twitter will be used to re-post media or forum articles enabling extremist content to be shared more quickly, widely and amongst people who would not normally search for extremist content,” said the document.

Theresa May also named Google Earth and Street View as websites that have been used for “attack planning.”

“While radicalisation continues primarily to be a social process, terrorists are making more and more use of new technologies to communicate their propaganda,” she added.

Last year, the UK government sited “cyber warfare” as one of the most serious threats to the country’s security.
The UK’s terror threat level was lowered from “severe” to “substantial,” meaning there is still a “strong possibility of attack.”