David Cameron to discuss growing threat of cyber attacks with President Obama

GCHQ report reveals that every day a British firm or organisation's website is being compromised by hackers
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Indy Politics

David Cameron will discuss the growing threat of cyber attacks with President Barack Obama in the White House this week, as details emerged of a major espionage campaign against the British energy sector.

The PM and president will discuss the fallout from the Paris attacks and the ongoing campaign against Isis when they hold private talks. The meeting has gained added urgency following the terrorist events in France. The two leaders will have a working dinner at the White House on Thursday and a meeting in the Oval Office on Friday, where they will also discuss Iran, Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak.

A report from GCHQ, the Government's listening post, reveals that every day a UK firm or organisation's website is being compromised by hackers or another form of cyber attack.

The first GCHQ report on the issue, "Common Cyber Attacks: Reducing the Impact", to be published later this week, reveals that UK energy firms faced an unprecedented malware attack on their websites which could have had catastrophic implications for the sector. Attackers added code to one website which redirected the visiting user's browser to one of three websites controlled by the attackers.

A spokesman said: "Fortunately monitoring of the network detected the attack and it was dealt with before it could affect the targeted businesses."

The landmark report details the growing threat to all businesses in Britain. Mr Cameron will also announce an increase in police resources to tackle the threat. Eight out of ten large companies in the UK reported some form of security breach in their computer systems last year, costing them between £600,000 and £1.5m. Robert Hannigan, director of GCHQ, says in the report: "We continue to see real threats to the UK on a daily basis, and I'm afraid the scale and rate of these attacks shows little sign of abating." In another cyber-attack which the Government says could have had serious implications for business, 300 computers at a large, unnamed UK company were attacked after hackers took advantage of a known vulnerability on their externally managed corporate website.

The Government will increase the number of "cyber specials" – specialist volunteers with skills in software development from the private sector – to 80, working with the National Crime Agency's National Cyber Crime Unit and in police forces and regional organised crime units across the UK.