MI5 chief warns public of growing cyber espionage threat

More than 10,000 people have been targeted by foreign spies in the last five years, according to the agency

The head of the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, MI5, will today deliver a warning to the general public about the threats posed by cyber espionage.

Ken McCallum, who last year succeeded Sir Andrew Parker as Director General, will emphasise the importance of vigilance among regular people in the UK, who are being increasingly approached by foreign intelligence agencies

The MI5 has recorded more than 10,000 cyber espionage incidents in the last five years, with many taking place on networking social media platform LinkedIn.

McCallum is expected to say that “UK victims of state espionage range way wider than just government”, in a speech scheduled for today at MI5’s Thames House headquarters.

“We see the UK’s brilliant universities and researchers having their discoveries stolen or copied; we see businesses hollowed out by the loss of advantage they’ve worked painstakingly to build. Given half a chance, hostile actors will short-circuit years of patient British research or investment. This is happening at scale. And it affects us all. UK jobs, UK public services, UK futures,” he will say.

McCallum will also urge businesses engaged in export, scientific research, and the high-tech sector to be aware of the potential risks of falling victim to cyber espionage. These could include "frustration and inconvenience”, but also “loss of livelihood, potentially up to loss of life".

However, McCallum is to add that these companies “don’t have to be scared; but be switched on”.

Related Resource

The Forrester Wave: Top security analytics platforms

The 11 providers that matter most and how they stack up

The Forrester Wave: Top security analytics platforms - whitepaper from IBMFree download

McCallum will also appeal for action across the government as well as the general public: "We must, over time, build the same public awareness and resilience to state threats that we have done over the years on terrorism," he will say.

The warning comes three months after the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) launched the Think Before You Link campaign, which aims to increase awareness of foreign agents targeting officials with access to sensitive information.

The project shares concerns that once a request has been accepted, the victim's colleagues will be more likely to accept a follow-up request as it looks like they share a mutual acquaintance. Nearly all government departments and some key industries are thought to have been targeted by fake LinkedIn accounts.

Featured Resources

The ultimate law enforcement agency guide to going mobile

Best practices for implementing a mobile device program

Free download

The business value of Red Hat OpenShift

Platform cost savings, ROI, and the challenges and opportunities of Red Hat OpenShift

Free download

Managing security and risk across the IT supply chain: A practical approach

Best practices for IT supply chain security

Free download

Digital remote monitoring and dispatch services’ impact on edge computing and data centres

Seven trends redefining remote monitoring and field service dispatch service requirements

Free download

Recommended

Ofcom report reveals alarming uptick in smishing attacks
scams

Ofcom report reveals alarming uptick in smishing attacks

22 Oct 2021
Graylog launches new cyber security solution to address legacy issues
cyber security

Graylog launches new cyber security solution to address legacy issues

21 Oct 2021
US to ban surveillance software exports to authoritarian governments
cyber security

US to ban surveillance software exports to authoritarian governments

21 Oct 2021
A quarter of all malicious JavaScript is obfuscated
hacking

A quarter of all malicious JavaScript is obfuscated

20 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Alibaba unveils custom Arm-based server chip
components

Alibaba unveils custom Arm-based server chip

19 Oct 2021
Windows 11 has problems with Oracle VirtualBox
Microsoft Windows

Windows 11 has problems with Oracle VirtualBox

5 Oct 2021
What is cyber warfare?
Security

What is cyber warfare?

15 Oct 2021