Digital Transformation

MI5 chief warns of cyber threat to government and business

Cyber criminals and state-sponsored hackers are exploiting the internet

The British government and UK businesses are under an "astonishing" threat from cyber attacks, MI5 chief Jonathan Evans warned in a speech on Monday night (25th June).

Given that the amount of sensitive information stored in the virtual world appeals to both criminals and state-sponsored spies alike, it seems that Britain’s security is significantly compromised by attempts to obtain such data, while the commercial sector is by no means immune to the risks involved with the rise of cyber crime.

Indeed, according to Mr Evans, one British company has already lost £800 million in revenue as a result of an online attack launched by a foreign state.

"Vulnerabilities in the internet are being exploited aggressively not just by criminals but also by states," he said in a rare public address at Mansion House.

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

Considering the wealth of files now stored on, processed by and uploaded to the internet and virtual drives, it’s particularly important for government and businesses to ensure that their systems are sufficiently protected – any breaches of their security can not only threaten continuity, but also expose the general public’s confidential details.

But as MI5 works on ensuring it has the most advanced data protection systems in place in order to deal with the threat posed by domestic as well as foreign cyber attacks, UK companies will not be able to rely on similar spy-style technology to safeguard their own servers.

However, certain measures such as secure online backup systems that cannot be accessed by anyone other than users with the necessary clearance can serve as an effective means of keeping virtual documents safe, and this will be increasingly important if online criminal activity increases in the coming years.