Miranda Dobson

International businesses warned of cyberspace dangers

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has highlighted the importance of online security to protect commercial interests at a cyberspace conference in Hungary.

Annual Government investment of £2m will be injected into a new Centre for Global Cyber-Security Capacity in the UK, to advise other countries on how to create a resilient defence against cyber-crime.

Businesses were warned of the dangers of a lack of infrastructure around intellectual property, and the Foreign Secretary emphasised the importance of protecting the internet as a growing power.

Mr Hague said: “The internet has been an unprecedented engine for growth, for social progress and for innovation, across the globe and in all areas of human endeavour.

“But there is a darker side to it, and in the United Kingdom we believe it is time to shine a strong light on those shadows.”

The Budapest Conference on Cyberspace heard the UK Government’s wish to establish an “international consensus” for online behaviour.

Key measures outlined by William Hague included the need for everyone to have access to skills and technology, privacy rights, intellectual property protection, and international cooperation to fight online criminal activity.

Mr Hague continued: “It is now possible to buy off-the-shelf malicious software, designed to steal bank details, for as little as £3,000, including access to a 24-hour technical support line.

“Earlier this year, a well-protected international company was breached via a foreign subsidiary. Hackers used a spear-phishing email attack to gain access to the subsidiary’s network.

“In another case, a large international manufacturer was targeted during a period of negotiation with a foreign government.”

He emphasised the dangers of leaving online attacks unpoliced, and highlighted that millions of pound of investment into research and development could be lost if criminal activity went unpunished.

An agreement between Britain and other countries has called for “openness and transparency”, and the business secretary urged the conference to support online security measures to ensure prosperity, growth and innovation.

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