Britain faces 'real and credible' cyber threat: intel chief

October 13, 2010

Britain faces the threat of cyber attacks from hostile states and criminals which could damage its critical infrastructure, the head of the country's electronic spying agency warned Wednesday.

In a rare public speech, Iain Lobban said Britain's infrastructure -- such as power grids and emergency services -- was at increased risk as the rapid growth of the Internet made systems more vulnerable.

"The threat is a real and credible one", he told an audience in London at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"We already provide expert advice and incident response to the operators of critical services.

"We must continue to strengthen these capabilities and be swifter in our response, aiming to match the speed at which cyber events happen."

Some 1,000 malicious emails each month were already being targeted at government computer networks, said Lobban, director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

Britain's critical national infrastructure refers to services that are crucial to daily life. It includes mass communication, financial services, health and transport.

Lobban further warned Britain's economy could be at risk if effective protection against cyber attacks was not developed.

Putting such protection in place would help "the UK's continuing economic prosperity," he said.

"A knowledge economy needs to protect from exploitation the intellectual property at the heart of the creative and high-tech industry sectors."

The director conceded his comments came as ministers weighed their "spending priorities" -- the coalition government is poised to give full details of sweeping cuts to defence and public sector spending next week.

But the risk of was not "solely a national security or defence issue," he argued.

"It goes right to the heart of our economic well-being and national interest."

GCHQ is one of Britain's intelligence and security agencies, alongside domestic intelligence service MI5 and foreign MI6.

GCHQ is more often associated with electronic intelligence-gathering but Lobban was keen to stress its role in protecting vital computer networks.

Explore further: US senators call for cybersecurity czar

More information: Text of GCHQ director's speech: http://www.iiss.org/recent-key-addresses/iain-lobban-address/

Related Stories

US senators call for cybersecurity czar

April 1, 2009

Two US senators introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at creating a powerful national cybersecurity advisor who would report directly to the president.

UK looks to young geeks to secure cyberspace

June 25, 2009

(AP) -- Britain is hiring former computer hackers to join a new security unit aimed at protecting cyberspace from foreign spies, thieves and terrorists, the country's terrorism minister said.

German ministers told to avoid BlackBerrys, iPhones

August 9, 2010

The German government said Monday ministers and senior civil servants have been told not to use iPhone and BlackBerry mobile devices as the interior minister warned a "dramatic" rise in cyber attacks.

US urges NATO to build 'cyber shield'

September 15, 2010

NATO must build a "cyber shield" to protect the transatlantic alliance from any Internet threats to its military and economic infrastructures, a top US defence official said Wednesday.

US reviewing ways to fight cyber attacks: general

September 24, 2010

The White House is looking at boosting the authority of the US military and other agencies to protect the country's infrastructure from possible cyber attack, a top general said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors

July 30, 2015

Accurately forecasting future electricity needs is tricky, with sudden weather changes and other variables impacting projections minute by minute. Errors can have grave repercussions, from blackouts to high market costs. ...

Netherlands bank customers can get vocal on payments

August 1, 2015

Are some people fed up with remembering and using passwords and PINs to make it though the day? Those who have had enough would prefer to do without them. For mobile tasks that involve banking, though, it is obvious that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.