GCHQ to advise business leaders on cyber crime


Click to follow
The Independent Online

GCHQ, the Government's electronic intelligence unit, is to take a lead role in advising Britain's senior business leaders to counter the growing threat of cyber attacks.

A programme launched today is the first occasion the Government and the intelligence services have worked directly in such a way with the private sector.

The launch of Cyber Security for Business, which will be attended by CEOs and chairs of FTSE-100 companies, ministers and officials from the security and intelligence agencies, follows growing concern over the threat of cyber warfare and its toll on the British economy. It is estimated to cost the country around £27bn a year.

The Commons' Intelligence and Security Committee concluded in its last report that the UK's defences remained inadequate despite the launch of a £650m national cyber security programme.

The blueprint drawn up by GCHQ will focus on the "Top 20 critical controls for effective cyber defence".

According to The Cost of Cyber Crime report, published last year, the country's business sector is the worst affected, losing £21bn in revenue per annum. The cost to consumers was £3.1bn a year (£1.7bn in identity theft and £1.4bn due to online scams), while the Government lost £2.2bn a year through fraud.

The opportunities for criminals have expanded, with the growth of new technology and the internet accounting for 21 per cent of GDP growth in the last five years in "mature economies", and the web providing 2.6 jobs for every one lost. In the UK, 6 per cent of GDP is generated by the internet.

The director of GCHQ, Iain Lobban, stated that "using the practical approach in the cyber security guidance will make the bad guys' job harder and won't cost a fortune."

He continued: "A survey conducted by one cyber security company earlier this year suggested that nearly nine in 10 UK businesses are confident in their defences. If that's true, my experience suggests that such confidence is misplaced."

Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, has disclosed an "astonishing" level of cyber attacks: one assault has cost a London business £800m.