International cybermercenaries for hire

LONDON — A British intelligence report said Wednesday that other nations are hiring hackers to launch attacks against their enemies, a trend it described as particularly worrying.

The warning over cybermercenaries came in an annual report published by Britain’s Intelligence and Security Committee, a watchdog body of senior lawmakers that oversees Britain’s spy agencies.

Citing testimony from British eavesdropping agency GCHQ, the report described the mercenaries as “skilled cyber professionals undertaking attacks on diverse targets such as financial institutions and energy companies.

“These groups pose a threat in their own right, but it is the combination of their capability and the objectives of their state backers which makes them of particular concern,” it said.

The lawmakers didn’t name any specific countries or say how widespread the practice was. The report didn’t go into much further detail, but there’s long been concern over the proliferation of private companies that profit from developing and distributing offensive software.

The report quoted GCHQ as saying that the electronic threat facing Britain is “at its highest level ever and is expected to rise further still” — a warning that tracks with longstanding trends relating to the growth of cybercrime and increasing official interest in online espionage. As with past reports, lawmakers singled out Russia and China as two countries alleged to have carried out attacks over the Internet.

The report also covered issues surrounding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, counterintelligence, and terrorism. It touched on the threat of Islamic radicalism out of Syria, where it said a significant number of British citizens had flocked in order to fight a holy war. It quoted Britain’s security services as saying that “individual jihadists in Syria currently represent the most worrying emerging terrorist threat to the UK and the West” and said that there was a risk that the country’s stockpile of chemical weapons could fall into the hands of extremists.

Not covered in the report were allegations published by the Guardian newspaper that GCHQ and its U.S. counterpart, the National Security Agency, were engaged in a global surveillance campaign aimed at securing access to as much of the world’s communications as technically possible. Some of the revelations raised fears that Britain was swapping data with the United States on its own citizens to get around restrictions on domestic espionage.

More in Herald Business Journal

Best foot forward: Ferndale company to make custom shoes easy

Long specializing in insoles, Superfeet is putting 3-D machines in stores to make customized shoes.

Vegas, LA, Phoenix, and more destinations from Paine Field

Alaska Airlines will fly to eight West Coast cities out of Everett starting this fall.

Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz has been called up and will be spending much of the year away from his office. He is going to Afghanistan. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Port of Everett CEO reporting for duty — in Afghanistan

Les Reardanz has been called to active duty with the Navy for an eight-month deployment.

Early boarding pass: Everett’s rising passenger terminal

Here’s what to expect when two airlines begin passenger service at Paine Field later this year.

Trump’s company fights efforts to shed the president’s name

“Our homes are worth more without the Trump name.”

Closing of 63 Sam’s Club stores impacts small business

The retailer has historically prided itself on the services it has provided small business members.

Ford goes ‘all in’ on electric cars with $11 billion investment

That’s up from the $4.5 billion that Ford said in late 2015 it would invest through the end of the decade.

New pickups from Ram, Chevy heat up big-truck competition

Big pickup truck sales are important to automakers, which make huge profits on them.

Most Read