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MI5 chief: State-sponsored cyber attacks on the rise

Director general of the security service, Jonathan Evans, outlines his thoughts on cyber security, the Olympics and the Communications Data Bill.

MI5 chief Jonathan Evans has revealed that a "hostile cyber attack" on an unidentified London listed company resulted in losses totaling 800 million.

Speaking at the Lord Mayor's Annual Defence and Security Lecture in central London yesterday, Evans said the attack resulted in intellectual property loss and put the unnamed firm at a "commercial disadvantage" during contract negotiations.

We are currently investigating cyber compromises in over a dozen companies and are working with many others that are of high economic value.

"[In light of this] the boards of all companies should consider the vulnerability of their own company to these risks as part of their normal corporate governance, and they should [ask] their key advisors and suppliers to do the same," Evans advised.

On the topic of cyber security, he said the internet is becoming "aggressively" exploited by states, which is putting government secrets and the integrity of the UK's infrastructure at stake.

"We are currently investigating cyber compromises in over a dozen companies and are working with many others that are of high economic value...that are potential targets of hostile state cyber activity. But this is only a tiny proportion of those affected," said Evans.

The evolution and development of the "internet of things" has a given hackers a greater attack surface, but as yet no major terrorist group has the capabilities to stage one, he added.

"So far, established terrorist groups have not posed a significant threat in this medium, but they are aware of the potential to use cyber vulnerabilities to attack critical infrastructure and I would expect them to gain more capability to do so in future," he warned.

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