back to article MI5 boss: Cyber spies, web-enabled crooks threaten UK economy

The Director General of MI5 said that both business and government was on the front line of cyber attacks – and that assaults by both criminal hackers and foreign governments had reached an industrial scale. Delivering Lord Mayor’s Annual Defence and Security Lecture in London last night, Jonathan Evans revealed that MI5 is …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    are they up for a budget review?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One London listed business lost £800m

    Now, who can we think of who might fit that criteria?

    Someone who hasn't squealed publicly.

    Perhaps because they can cover the loss by just inflating what they charge their customer, which would imply an uncritical and non-price sensitive customer. Perhaps, say, the public sector.

    It's the sort of thing that companies "good" at secrecy (well in terms of PR, clearly not in this instance in terms of actually keeping important secrets) might seem to be good at. Perhaps those working in security, or the defence sector.

    Let me just run my finger down the list of appropriate PLCs. I don't think I'll have to go very far down the alphabet.... No. I dont even make it to C.

    If I'm right (and to avoid being the cause of El Reg being on the receiving end of unwelcome civil legal attention I'll refrain from mentioned the Editor's bete noir of defence suppliers) that's our (tax) money being drained, another reason the guys and gals don't have the sort of kit they deserve to use on our behalf.

    I may well be wrong of course. Other suggestions would be welcome.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: One London listed business lost £800m

      It's a good job you disguised the identity of this company to stop The Register getting sued! A PLC with a name beginning with A or B that is a defence supplier? Now, who could it be....

      Big Brother

      Re: One London listed business lost £800m

      < I could suggest one UK telco that's been thoroughly compromised by industrial espionage on an epic scale.

      Also on the B page.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Thumb Up

        Re: One London listed business lost £800m

        Perhaps we should put them on the B-Ark...

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Could be good news

    In the 50s, 60s,70s when the USSR was the threat - MI5 seems to have been run by Soviet agents.

    So now the head of MI5 is presumably either a member of Al Queada or a hacker - I think having a member of Anonymous in charge of the secret police is probably a better idea

  4. Christoph
    Black Helicopters

    Be Afraid - and give us more powers

    Yet another scare story, yet another request for increased powers and surveillance. And it's all the fault of those terrible foreigners who may be doing ... err ... exactly what we've been caught doing with Stuxnet and Flame.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Be Afraid - and give us more powers

      I think that is the subtext to all his FUD - "we* do it - in fact, we probably started it - so others are going to do the same to us".

      *"We" = EU/USA/Israel in this case

  5. Thomas 18

    MI5 boss: Cyber spies, web-enabled crooks threaten UK economy

    MI5 boss reported today that the substantial cost of employing all these cyber spies, web-enabled crooks and trolls was prohibitive and threatened the UK economy at large. The boss admitted being unsure of what a troll actually was but stated that he couldn't see any role for such creatures, given the reduced focus on ground warfare.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nothing to do with the latest snooper's charter

    like, you know, an informal meeting with the (...) over tea. Look there, old chap, we're all in it together, innit? And it would be met with widespread approval if MI5 highlighted the threat we all face, from those evildoers, say, in the next couple of weeks. The press will pick it up, and it might be beneficial to us all, youknowwhatImsayin?

    nosir, categorically nothing to do with any pressure, only pure coincidence, etc.

    but hey, it's all in the family, as long as they don't outsource MI5 to a warmer climate, any extra money's spent in the UK, boosting the economy, etc.. Thus, international terrorism helps us back on the recovery path, etc.


    What is at stake.. is the life-blood of our companies and corporations.

    So why are MI5 doing nothing to shutdown Phorm, or TalkTalk/Huawei, or Vodafone/Bluecoat?

  8. Tom 7

    Three web enabled crooks went offline last week

    I wonder how much QE we will have to give them now their back?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't somebody *please* think of the terrorists?

    So, imagine yourself to be a terrorist. You wish to send a message involving the maximum amount of shock and horror.

    Do you,

    a) Turn off all the automatic bus and tube timetable information in London,


    b) Blow up a few dozen people by carrying a bomb onto a bus or train.

    Whilst you're there, have a think about the requisite knowledge, ease of implementation and general cost-to-benefit ratio of the two.

    Serious "cyber" attacks (as opposed to mere vandalism) are the domain of governments and corporations.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Won't somebody *please* think of the terrorists?

      "Serious "cyber" attacks (as opposed to mere vandalism) are the domain of governments and corporations." ….. Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 26th June 2012 13:53 GMT

      Do you really think so, AC? Is that then defence of the cyber realm identified as being a private sector entrepreneurial enterprise zone which always has enigmatic leading lights worth an absolute fortune and living like an anonymous billionaire in charge of operations with shell corporations/phantom partners, which no one can fathom or are quietly advised to refer further on up the chain of command and control to be lost and overtaken by events, dear boy, events? Is that the New Virtual Age Security and Protection Paradigm?

      Yes, well, that sounds about right, and would certainly not be wrong, whenever reality is a staged show although albeit recently sub-primed directed by the obviously intellectually challenged and even downright incompetent …… and that is one being charitable, and especially so if the system is being milked and bilked in its present forms and programs for exclusively selfish and self-serving gain and a perverse elite rather than benevolent mass control …… which it is?

      Interesting changed days ahead indeed …… most certainly.

      And whenever all of that true, does it identify the real terrorists, who are nothing at all like the old terrorists you have been led to believe exist to attack.

  10. Primus Secundus Tertius

    All innit (snooping) together

    What's the problem with letting MI5 see it all hang out. After all, it's just letting them catch up with Google and Facebook.

  11. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Oh, ffs. Please, just get on with it already and declare war with China.

    Not that I think they're doing anything worthy of warfare that you actually care about (e.g. human rights abuses etc = not your territory), but PURELY because between American agencies, GCHQ and MI5, there seems to be a culture of immediately blaming certain countries the second cyber-attacks are mentioned, and then - on the other channel - publicly equating a cyber-attack with an act of war and asking money to defend against it. While simultaneously our allies create entire botnets to take down Iran's nuclear program.

    Please, just get it over with. If you want to go blow up China, or Iran, or wherever, just say so and go and do it. Stop fabricating and - worse - guessing at the sources of attacks and just do what you're obviously dying to do.

    If someone is attacking critical national infrastructure, then the ONLY person I would personally give you permission to shoot is the guy who created that infrastructure's security and connected it to the Internet in the first place. The same applies whether we're talking governments (e.g. Iran's problems = using Windows and SCADA tools on Internet connected networks), big businesses (e.g. if someone's getting into IBM's computers, they need to sort it out) or vital services (e.g. if someone can shutdown the smart-meter network if it's compromised, maybe we shouldn't have one?)

  12. Miek

    "The Director General of MI5 said that both business and government was on the front line of cyber attacks – and that assaults by both criminal hackers and foreign governments had reached an industrial scale" --

    No Shit Sherlock!

    1. Graham Wilson


      As A.C. says in the first post, they must be up for a budget review. Even Dr. Watson could figure that out.


  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's the banksters that threaten the UK economy, not Cyber Spies. This story is nothing but an attempt to shift the blame.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Bullshit

      Indeed so. Who needs cyber criminals (whatever they are) when the idiots running the show outsource all their IT to people with very little experience of the system?

  14. Crisp

    Britain’s National Security Strategy ranks cyber security alongside terrorism

    Nice to see they've got their priorities in order then.

  15. ukgnome

    Cyber security?

    What? As in Robocop

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean we have to give up all our corporate espionage, sorry, competitive intelligence?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Foreign governments

    Unsurprisingly he doesn't say WHICH foreign governments it is that are causing such distress to our noble institutions. Could it be because the only state-authored malware that has had any noticeable effect in recent times has been StuxNet and Flame (authored by the US)? "Yet more friendly fire from our dishonourable allies" doesn't pull the hearts and minds strings quite as well as "we're under attack by unknown creepy goverments".

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is it Windoze machines that are getting hacked?

    1. Miek

      Re: Hmmmm

      Windows machines and Industrial Control Systems.

  19. Boris S.

    Reality 101

    There will always be unscrupulous people trying to steal industrial IP. That's why we need to build more prisons to house these folks.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vulnerabilities in the Internet?

    The Internet is a means of connecting computers, it's up to you to secure your computer once its subsequently so connected.

  21. Don Jefe

    Security Starts at Home

    I'm thinking that if countries kept their sensitive work at home instead of "best sourcing" the expensive parts maybe the threats wouldn't be so pronounced.

  22. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Knock, Knock ....... MuI7 Calling and Looking for Future Intelligence Capabilities*

    "Vulnerabilities in the internet are being exploited aggressively, not just by criminals but also by states. And the extent of what is going on is astonishing" …. Evans warned.

    Are such vulnerabilities, as exist and grow ever more lucrative and powerful and overwhelming, being exploited aggressively and uniquely by MI5 with a home Virtual Terrain Team of cyber experts anonymously hyperactive and invisible in the field you will never have need to know of unless cleared with a classified need to know authorisation for access to privileged information, because of its impact on and importance to national, international and internetional security provision and spooky intelligence services protection? And if not, why not, for IT delivers Sublime Autonomous Universal Lead which cannot be blocked and just loves to be challenged, for such challenges can only be launched and be successful when Intelligence used is improved and superior?

    If MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5) working with GCHQ, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Department for Energy and Political Climate Change and also with law enforcement – through the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, do not provide Lead Programs and Virtual Machine Programming with Global Operating Devices, then they all follow those and that which does, and they are just a reactive, after the fact, spent force and an impotent clone with delusion of grandeur and power with zero future control ….. and nothing better than a cuckold in a cuckoos nest.

    And all for the want and employment and deployment and special engagement of a home Virtual Terrain Team cyber experts anonymously hyperactive and invisible in the field you will never have need to know of unless cleared with a classified need to know authorisation for access to privileged information.

    And which all should note here, and especially so Jonathan Evans and affiliate spooky bodies, is not shared as a question whenever a clear and unambiguous statement of true and honest fact.

    "The intelligence agency boss said that the private sector had a key role to play in tackling cyber crime, saying businesses could help make the UK more resilient to cyber attacks." ….. Well, he got that bit perfectly right and is here challenged by the private sector to up his game and engage with would be providers of future feeds and spooky seeds for national needs. And that in this day and internetworking age, is the future provision of every nations needs.

    I suppose one may need to send a memo to energise him into appropriate action, should he be presently all at sea servering a Mary Celeste of an effective service in that Great Game environment. This is most probably the most appropriate window for that on their web portal ……. Offer us a product or service ….. which should tell you everything you need to know about the security available in cyber communications i.e. it does not exist and all information can been made known and there is no possibility of privacy and secrecy online, other than in that which you would not care to dare share. And who on earth thinks that snail mail is any safer and more secure? Letters and parcels have been intercepted and spied upon since….. oh, forever. Methinks this comment/server hosted web page presentation is all that is needed to test for the necessary advanced intelligence in services which are needed today for the future that tomorrow brings via ITs Virtual Means and AIMemes ...... although this one is an APT contender which may trump it ....... Report a suspected threat to national security.

    I wonder if Jonathan Evans is one of those types of bods/robots that can act unilaterally upon his own initiative with executive decisiveness, which may or may not need to be shared with others after the fact, or must he wait for an order from others who would be leading, which would then be others supplying intelligence to the UKGBNI?

    Should that be the case, then is this a memo to all of them.

    * There is no point in casting pearls before swine, is there. Such would be an obvious waste of scarce lustrous resources on an ignorant animal more content at a trough of swill with like-minded peers.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother with terrorists?

    Just hire the offshore staff RBS/Nat West use, they have shown they can cause far greater damage than any organised cyberwarfare team could ever dream of

  24. dotdavid

    "MI5 (Military Intelligence, Section 5) works with GCHQ, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Department for Energy and Climate Change and also with law enforcement – through the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure – to respond to cyber security threats and disseminate best practice"

    Wait a minute, the Department for Energy and Climate Change?! I can just about see why the department of bugging businesses would want to get involved, but why would the Windfarm Marketing Board be involved?

    Unless AGW refusenicks are active cyberwarriors...

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