MI5: ‘Astonishing’ Level Of Cyber Security Attacks Hit UK

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

British industry is being hammered by criminal and state sponsored attacks, says MI5 chief

UK industry is facing an “astonishing” level of cyber security attacks, according to the chief of MI5, Jonathan Evans.

Nation states and cyber criminals are taking advantage of internet vulnerabilities, Evans said, in his first public speech in two years.

MI5 itself is working on countering “industrial-scale processes involving many thousands of people lying behind both state sponsored cyber espionage and organised cyber crime”, Evans added.

He warned the London 2012 Olympics were was an “attractive target” for terrorists, but sought to allay fears by noting security preparations were underway, the BBC reported.

Aggressive exploitation

“Vulnerabilities in the internet are being exploited aggressively not just by criminals but also by states,” he said. “The extent of what is going on is astonishing.

“This is a threat to the integrity, confidentiality and availability of government information but also to business and to academic institutions.

“What is at stake is not just our government secrets but also the safety and security of our infrastructure, the intellectual property that underpins our future prosperity and… commercially sensitive information.”

His comments came after startling revelations about the US’ involvement in cyber espionage operations. It recently emerged that the US and Israel were behind the cyber super-weapon that was Stuxnet, and it is now believed Americans created the Flame virus. Both pieces of malware were used against Iran.

Evans also backed the proposals of the Draft Communications Data Bill, which outlines plans to collect comms information on all UK citizens.  He described the measures in the proposal, otherwise known as Snooper’s Charter, as “necessary and proportionate”.

Others see the proposals as massively invasive, suggesting the government is playing into the hands of GCHQ, even though the bill is supposed to support police operations.

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