Friday, 5 July 2013
UK Businesses Waking up to Cyber Threats
A few weeks back we reported on statistics that shows the UK as the number one place for focusing phishing attacks and other types of Internet scams. However, following recent disclosures from British intelligence sources, we are forced to conclude that the issue is a lot more serious. According to the BBC, British government and industry networks are now subject to as many as 70 cyber espionage attacks every month.
The BBC reports that some of those attacks have been ongoing for as long as two years. The point of the cyber espionage appears to be to gather as much intellectual information as possible, regardless of whether it relates to security or commerce.
Sir Iain Loban, director of GCHQ, told the BBC that business secrets were being stolen by cyber spies on an ‘industrial scale’. He said security experts assumed at the beginning that most cyber espionage was aimed at national security issues and was treated as such. However, it appears as though UK businesses face an even greater threat than the government does.
Why focus on the commercial sector? Because foreign hackers can steal intellectual property and use it to their own financial gain. British security experts believe much of the espionage is coming from countries like China; countries where intellectual property rights, patents, trademarks, and branding are worthless.
Where it hurts the most in the UK is the technology sector. Whether you are talking about IT services or network technology, Britain is the European leader in design and development. When foreign entities steal intellectual property, they are able to produce the same technologies in a way that hurts UK business. Unfortunately, no amount of training at the hosting level is going to fix the problem.
In order to protect themselves against cyber espionage, companies need top-notch security experts and the best equipment possible. The damage hackers can do to both a company's reputation and bottom-line requires nothing else. Without the proper weapons in place, any business stands a real chance of being seriously hurt by cyber espionage.
Experts say the problem goes above and beyond intellectual secrets regarding technology. They say foreign hackers are also interested in business information having to do with long and short-term direction, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and other related business decisions. This information can be used by hackers to strengthen their own position while weakening the company they are attacking.
Making things worse are the politics involved in dealing with foreign entities. As the American NSA scandal proves, government can go too far in trying to collect information and catch those responsible for cyber espionage and terrorism. Keeping British businesses safe will have to be a joint effort between government security experts and their counterparts in the business sector.
Make no mistake; cyber security in the 21st century has gone well beyond simple viruses, malware, and spam. It has become a real and serious problem on an international level.