The director of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), UK’s intelligence agency will in a speech today, speak about the global cyber security standard falling short of where it needs to be.
Recent breaches have pushed the topic of cyber security to the forefront in the UK. The most significant recent breach is the now infamous TalkTalk hack. The GCHQ, UK’s spy agency has now revealed that it is identifying at least 200 cyber attacks targeting critical installations, networks and companies, up from 100 attacks last summer.
Speaking to the Telegraph, the director general for cyber security at GCHQ, Ciaran Martin said:
These are attacks that are of significance to national security. That is either because of who the aggressor or the victim is or because of the nature of the attack.
He also noted the “chronic, advanced and persistent” threat posed by hackers and state-sponsored actors, with a warning that attacks targeting critical infrastructure installations could have the UK crawl to a standstill.
In a private conference put together by the GCHQ today, Robert Hannigan, director of the agency will tell influential senior figures in London that “something is not quite right” with cybersecurity.
The transcript of his speech due to be given today was obtained by the Financial Times. Although Hannigan doesn’t explicitly call for new laws, he called for the government to do better in the fight for better cyber security.
Those charged in government with national security have worried about the top-end threats for some time… there is no doubt — significant cyberattacks will become more common, not less in the coming period.
The UK recently saw the approval of the Investigatory Powers Bill grants the government and law enforcement agencies additional powers to hack into and bug computers and phones in the UK. Also mandatory is the practice of storing the web browsing history of every citizen for 12 months by ISPs and telecom companies. These records will be accessible for a period of 12 months by law enforcement, security services and other public government entities.
Hannigan contends that the UK have so far been lucky to avoid a serious incident, claiming that a “destructive” attack the likes of which Sony Pictures encountered “could threaten livelihoods, businesses and even lives.” Despite the threat posed by such an attack, he adds that the private sector doesn’t take the scenario of such a comprehensive breach seriously.
The heightened drive and focus on cyber security comes during a time when breaches make everyday headlines with the spotlight firmly on failing security measures. The GCHQ in partnership with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport announced a £6.5m (approx. USD $10 million) scheme to encourage better cybersecurity research yesterday.
Featured image from Flickr.