UK spy agency says to share cyber threat data with private firms

Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:29am EDT
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By Kylie MacLellan

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency said on Tuesday it would start to share classified cyber threat information with private companies amid concerns over increasingly sophisticated targeting of businesses by hackers.

The announcement came a day after a cabinet minister revealed that a "state-sponsored" group had recently hacked into the British government's own internal network.

Britain regards cyberspace as "a top-tier national security priority" and key sectors, including finance, energy and transport, have been told to improve their defense against disruption to essential services by hackers.

GCHQ, the British equivalent of the United States' National Security Agency (NSA), said on Tuesday its director, Iain Lobban, would announce the information-sharing deal - initially on a pilot basis - at a two-day conference on cyber security being hosted by the intelligence agency in London.

"GCHQ will commit to sharing its classified cyber threat information at scale and pace to help communications service providers protect their customers; starting with suppliers to government networks and then moving on the other sectors of critical national infrastructure," GCHQ said in a statement.

The move to help protect business came after Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude told the same event on Monday, the first day of the conference, that the government was recently hacked.

"I can tell you of a recent case where a state-sponsored hostile group gained access to a system administrator account on the government secure intranet," Maude said. "This attack was discovered early and dealt with to mitigate any damage."


Satellite dishes are seen at GCHQ's outpost at Bude, close to where trans-Atlantic fibre-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall, southwest England June 23, 2013. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty