In a rare and hard-hitting assessment of a range of security threats facing the UK, the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, has warned that internet vulnerabilities are being exploited aggressively by both cybercriminals and nation states.
Mr Evans warned that the tragetting of digital resources was now being carried out on an industrial scale, with the involvement of many thousands of people. He noted that the scale of the activity was “astonishing” and presented a threat not only to national security, but also to the economic health of those companies and institutions falling foul of attacks.
Referring to advances in technology, and in particular the growth in social networking, Mr Evans also warned against limiting the ability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to the collect the communications data necessary to secure convictions.
The threat posed to state institutions by online attacks was clearly illustrated by a series of denial of service attacks on Japanese government sites orchestrated by Anonymous. The attacks, which took a range of sites offline, were launched in response to new anti-piracy legislation being considered by the government. This is just the latest in a series of similar protests targetted by the hacking collective at countries like the US, China, India and the Vatican.
Meanwhile, in a significant development, the FBI has announced the apprehension of 24 people in a range of different countries involved in the sale of stolen credit card data. It’s thought that as many as 350,000 accounts may have been involved.
The FBI had set up a fake online forum two years ago dealing with the subject of carding, and traced a number of individuals who had contributed to the discussions. The majority of those caught operated out of either the US or the UK.