UK spy agency says to share cyber threat data with private firms

LONDON Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:44pm IST

Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ's outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fibre-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England June 23, 2013. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ's outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fibre-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England June 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kieran Doherty

Related Topics

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency said on Tuesday it would start to share classified cyber threat information with private companies amid concerns over increasingly sophisticated targeting of businesses by hackers.

The announcement came a day after a cabinet minister revealed that a "state-sponsored" group had recently hacked into the British government's own internal network.

Britain regards cyberspace as "a top-tier national security priority" and key sectors, including finance, energy and transport, have been told to improve their defences against disruption to essential services by hackers.

GCHQ, the British equivalent of the United States' National Security Agency (NSA), said on Tuesday its director, Iain Lobban, would announce the information-sharing deal - initially on a pilot basis - at a two-day conference on cyber security being hosted by the intelligence agency in London.

"GCHQ will commit to sharing its classified cyber threat information at scale and pace to help communications service providers protect their customers; starting with suppliers to government networks and then moving on the other sectors of critical national infrastructure," GCHQ said in a statement.

The move to help protect business came after Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude told the same event on Monday, the first day of the conference, that the government was recently hacked.

"I can tell you of a recent case where a state-sponsored hostile group gained access to a system administrator account on the government secure intranet," Maude said. "This attack was discovered early and dealt with to mitigate any damage."

FOREIGN ESPIONAGE

Britain has said it is recruiting hundreds of computer experts to defend its vital networks against cyber attacks and launch high-tech assaults of its own.

It has said it blocked around 400,000 advanced malicious cyber threats against the government's secure internet alone in 2012, and government documents have spoken of foreign states seeking "to conduct espionage with the aim of spying on or compromising our government, military, industrial and economic assets as well as monitoring opponents of their regime".

Government sources have said a large number of such assaults have originated in China or Russia.

Earlier this month, the Bank of England announced a new framework designed to spot and test possible weak points at British lenders in an attempt to bolster the financial industry's defences against cyber attacks.

Cyber attacks on private companies in Europe and the United States have increased in regularity and severity as increasingly resourceful "hacktivists", criminals and extortionists try to infiltrate systems or just disrupt operations.

Last month, Ebay revealed hackers had accessed its network, accessing some 145 million user records in what was one of the biggest data breaches in history.

(Editing by Andrew Osborn and Gareth Jones)

FILED UNDER:

Sony Cyber Attack

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

Down Under

Down Under

Magic Johnson inspires Australia to second test win.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage