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MI5 working to counter 'astonishing' level of cyber-attacks on UK

June 26, 2012 - London

British intelligence agency MI5 is working to counter 'astonishing' levels of cyber-attacks on the UK industry, its chief has said.

Director General Jonathan Evans warned that criminals and states were exploiting Internet 'vulnerabilities', adding that the attacks were a threat to the integrity of information.

"Vulnerabilities in the Internet are being exploited aggressively not just by criminals but also by states, The BBC quoted Evans, as saying.

In the past Russia and China have been cited as the countries most involved in state-based attack.This is a threat to the integrity, confidentiality and availability of government information but also to business and to academic institutions," Evans said.

"What is at stake is not just our government secrets, but also the safety and security of our infrastructure, the intellectual property that underpins our future prosperity and... commercially sensitive information," he added.

He said that in the past about 75 percent of counter-terrorist casework was linked in some way to Pakistan or Afghanistan. That had now been reduced to below 50 percent, he added.

Evans also said he was concerned about Iran in the wake of plots against Israeli interests in India, Azerbaijan and elsewhere.

"A return to state-sponsored terrorism by Iran or its associates, such as Hezbollah, cannot be ruled out as pressure on the Iranian leadership increases," he said.

He also said that the plan to allow greater collection of communications data, such as from social networks, was a 'necessary and proportionate measure' to tackle crimes, including terrorism.

Evans also warned the London 2012 Olympics was an 'attractive target' for terrorist groups, but said security preparations were well planned.


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