UK firm 'lost £800m to cyber attack'

Security chief warns of new terror threat and rising cost of cybercrime to British companies

Cyber attacks by a foreign state resulted in a British company losing £800m in revenue, the head of MI5 revealed yesterday.

This "was not just through intellectual property loss but also from commercial disadvantage in contractual negotiations", said Jonathan Evans. "They will not be the only corporate victims. The extent of what is going on is astonishing, with industrial-scale processes involving thousands of people lying behind both state-sponsored cyber espionage and organised cyber crime."

Mr Evans said that he rebellions in the Middle East have allowed some members of the global Islamist network created by Osama bin Laden to find bases for exporting jihad. This, he said, was a "new and worrying development and could get worse as events unfold".

The rare public intervention by the director-general of the Security Service adds to the debate about the backing given by the UK, US and European states to opposition movements which have swept away regimes across the region. Critics suggest that it is hard-line Muslim fundamentalists, inimically hostile to the West, rather than progressive groups, which have seized the reins of power in the aftermath.

Giving the Lord Mayor's Lecture at London's Mansion House last night, Mr Evans said: "Today, parts of Arab world have once again become a permissive environment for al Qa'ida. This is the completion of a cycle – al-Qa'ida first moved to Afghanistan due to pressure in their Arab countries of origin. They moved to Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban; and now some are heading back home to the Arab world again.

"A small number of British would-be jihadists are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen. Some will return to the UK and pose a threat here."

Large numbers of young men from the Libyan diaspora from Britain went to fight against Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya. Some of them were affiliated to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which was, at one point, allied with al-Qa'ida. However, security sources say there is little evidence of returning Libyan fighters becoming involved in domestic terrorist plots.

A former head of the LIFG, Abdelhakim Belhaj, is currently suing the UK government, the former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen, once an officer with MI6, over alleged complicity in his rendition by US officials.

Mr Evans continued: "The Arab Spring offers the long-term hope of a more pluralistic, democratic and flexible system in the Arab world. If that happens it would ease some of the pressures that have spawned extremism in the region. So we'll have to manage the short-term risks if there is to be a longer-term reward from the Arab Spring."

According to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the UK has faced 43 credible terrorist plots since 9/11, with one deemed to be extremely serious every year since then.

Mr Evans said: "In back rooms and in cars and on the streets there is no shortage of individuals talking about wanting to mount terrorist attacks here. We see them regularly in our intelligence investigations. Others in various parts of the world have the same ambition." But he added that successful operations have meant "we are near to reaching a form of stalemate – they haven't stopped trying but we have got better at stopping them."

At the same time, said Mr Evans, MI5 is facing the challenge of new types of espionage with cyber security in the forefront. The director general said the Security Service was involved in the investigation of "cyber-compromises in over a dozen companies and is working with many others that are potential future targets of hostile state activity. But this is only a tiny proportion of those affected." He added that one London listed company has lost £800m through cyber attacks. The identity of the company cannot be disclosed for reasons of commercial confidentiality, claim Whitehall officials.

The vast majority of state-organised cyber attacks in this country are believed to be carried out by China and Russia, with an array of targets from weapons manufacturers to petroleum producers.

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballLive: Latest news from Champions League draw
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Scrum Master (Agile, Java, team recruitment)

£45000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Scrum M...

Junior Asset Manager

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Junior As...

Investment Analyst

£33000 - £40000 Per Annum Discretionary profit share: The Green Recruitment Co...

Supply teachers required in Cambridge

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers requi...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?