Britain is facing a ‘real and credible' threat from cyber attacks from unfriendly countries and crooks, with government computers targeted over 1,000 every month, the director of GCHQ warned.
Iain Lobban is not taking the continuing threats lightly and warned they could damage the country's economic future and said forebodingly that some nations are using such threats to put pressure on others, Reuters reported.
"Cyberspace is contested every day, every hour, every minute, every second," he warned in a rare appearance, adding that the internet lowers "the bar for entry to the espionage game."
He reportedly believes that as the net grows, there is more risk of disruption to Britain's key infrastructure like power stations and financial systems, which if compromised could cause havoc.
GCHQ, which gathers intelligence, eavesdrops and breaks codes, reportedly said: "the threat is a real and credible one."
While heads of states and security pros have been bleating about cyber threats for ages, the problem has been thrust into the limelight of late when experts suggested a Stuxnet worm that attacks industrial systems, could have been created by a state to target Iran's controversial nuclear operation.
Although he did not give any specific details, Lobban is said to have told the Institute for Strategic Studies: "It is true we have seen the use of cyber techniques by one nation on another to bring diplomatic or economic pressure to bear."
Meanwhile, a recent report from Parliament reportedly said that GCHQ has hinted that Russia and China pose the biggest cyber threat to Britain.
And the US doesn't want to take any chances either as it is believed to be setting up a Cyber Command to guard defence networks and launch its own cyber attacks, yet Lobban has reportedly said that there should be ‘proper norms of behaviour for responsible states in cyber space' to avoid any extra problems.
Lobban also reportedly admitted that worms are causing grief to the government's systems which cop 20,000 malicious emails every month of which some 1,000 are thought to be deliberately targeted. Perhaps confirming many people's fears, he warned that such attacks present the government with a major challenge of keeping individuals' data safe.
He reportedly added that the ‘disturbing' hike in online crime is costing the economy billions of pounds and there has been a ‘massive' amount of poaching of intellectual property too.
As details of the dreaded Treasury Spending Review are due out next week, as well as the government's Strategic Defence and Security Review, Lobban seems to be concerned that certain areas will be cut that could have disastrous effects on others.
"Just because I, as a national security official, am giving a speech about cyber, I don't want you to take away the impression that it is solely a national security or defence issue. It goes to the heart of the our economic well-being and national interest," he reportedly added.