GCHQ warns of thousands of cyberattacks on UK

13 Oct 2010
Red alert

Government computers suffer "significant disruption" from cyberattacks, warns communications chief

The UK is coming under serious and repeated cyberattacks on its core infrastructure, the head of GCHQ has warned.

Government computer systems have suffered "significant disruption" from internet worms, according to GCHQ director Iain Lobban, with around 1,000 targeted email attacks per month.

The threat posed by terrorists to facilities such as power stations and emergency services is "real and credible", Lobban added.

Cyberspace is contested every day, every hour, every minute, every second

"Cyberspace lowers the bar for entry to the espionage game, both for states and for criminal actors," Lobban told the International Institute for Strategic Studies, according to a report by the BBC.

"Cyberspace is contested every day, every hour, every minute, every second. I can vouch for that from the displays in our own operations centre of minute-by-minute cyber attempts to penetrate systems around the world."

The GCHQ boss claims that there is more than the safe operation of critical Government systems at stake. Lobban said that intellectual property theft was taking place on a "massive scale", potentially threatening both national security and businesses.

"Fundamentally, getting cyber right enables the UK's continuing economic prosperity," he said.

"There's a clear defensive angle. In order to flourish, a knowledge economy needs to protect from exploitation the intellectual property at the heart of the creative and high-tech industry sectors. It needs to maintain the integrity of its financial and commercial services."

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