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31 October 2011, 16:17

GCHQ director calls number of cyberattacks on UK "disturbing"

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In an article in The Times (behind pay-wall), Iain Lobban, the Director of the UK's signals intelligence agency, GCHQ , has written that there has been a 'disturbing' number of cyber-attacks directed at the UK, targeting both sensitive government data and corporate intellectual property. Lobban was writing ahead of a government conference on Cyberspace, to be hosted in London by Foreign Secretary William Hague, on 1 and 2 November.

In the article, Lobban wrote: "I can attest to attempts to steal British ideas and designs – in the IT, technology, defence, engineering and energy sectors, as well as other industries – to gain commercial advantage or to profit from secret knowledge of contractual arrangements... Such intellectual property theft doesn't just cost the companies concerned; it represents an attack on the UK's continued economic well-being".

Although Lobban points to attacks on the UK, referring to an attempt to "acquire sensitive information from British government computer systems, including one significant (but unsuccessful) attempt on the Foreign Office", the conference is deliberately international in flavour. When it was announced, William Hague said: "It is vital that cyberspace remains a safe and trusted environment in which to operate. This can only be done effectively through international cooperation, engaging both the public and private sectors." Those attending include US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU digital supremo Neelie Kroes. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Eugene Kaspersky of Kaspersky Lab and Howard Schmidt, Cybersecurity Co-ordinator, White House, are among the many other speakers. Further details of the event are available on the FCO web site.

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