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October 30, 2011

UK faces ‘disturbing’ number of cyber attacks: GCHQ head

Calls for a global co-ordinated response to forge cyber development policy

By CBR Staff Writer

According to director of communications intelligence agency GCHQ, a "disturbing" number of cyber attacks have been impacting the UK, targeting government as well as private firms.

In addition to defence, technology and engineering firms’ designs data, government computers have been targeted for sensitive data, BBC News quoted Iain Lobban who wrote in The Times.

Foreign Office computer systems were attacked by hackers, but they were unsuccessful in retrieving data from the systems, according to BBC News.

A two-day conference is being held in London this week, where foreign secretary William Hague will say the UK is treating cyber security threat as seriously as international terrorism.

He was of the opinion that a "global co-ordinated response" is needed to forge policy on cyber development, with Lobban adding that such an inclusive approach was vital.

"I can attest to attempts to steal British ideas and designs – in the IT, technology, defence, engineering and energy sectors, as well as other industries – to gain commercial advantage or to profit from secret knowledge of contractual arrangements," Lobban wrote.

"Such intellectual property theft doesn’t just cost the companies concerned; it represents an attack on the UK’s continued economic wellbeing."

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A black economy has already developed that sells credit card details of UK citizens, while hackers could target government online taxation and benefits services in future.

Recently, Maj Gen Jonathan Shaw, the head of the Ministry of Defence’s cyber security programme, said that Hacking by foreign organisations and governments is putting UK companies out of business.

"The biggest threat to this country by cyber is not military, it is economic. The cyber threat could affect anyone, and we all need to take measures to protect ourselves against the threat it poses," Shaw said. "If the moment you come up with a brilliant new idea, it gets nicked by the Chinese then you can end up with your company going bust."

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