Business secrets being stolen on “industrial scale” says UK spy agency chief

Business secrets are being stolen on an “industrial scale” in Britain, according to Sir Ian Lobban, director of spy agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters). Every month, around 70 sophisticated cyber espionage campaigns target government or industry networks, Sir Iain said in an interview with the BBC.

“People are going after intellectual property and then seeking to translate it into national gain,” Sir Iain said in the interview with BBC Radio 4. “We started a couple of years ago thinking this was going to be very much about the defense sector but really it’s any intellectual property that can be harvested.”

Some businesses have been penetrated by foreign hackers by up to two years, Sir Iain said. Government bore the brunt of these sophisticated attacks, but sectors such as information technology, education and engineering were also regularly targeted, according to GCHQ’s figures.

“We’re sure we know who it is,” said Sir Iain, who declined to name the nations or organizations involved. “Attribution can be very hard and it’s very difficult to do attribution in real time but over a period you can build up a pretty strong idea.”

Earlier this year,  Sir Iain set out a cyber safety guideline for businesses, entitled 10 Steps to Cyber Security, saying “The responsibility to manage your organization’s cyber risks starts and stops at board level. Basic information risk management can stop up to 80% of the cyber attacks seen today.”

Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security

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