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

More business, more competition for Everett kidney dialysis center

Nonprofit Puget Sound Kidney Centers sees large for-profit competitors enter state market.

Suitors, beware: In Seattle, Amazon also brought disruption

The company has grown there from a workforce of about 5,000 to more than 40,000 in 33 buildings.

How the Airbus-Bombardier alliance could squeeze Boeing

“It makes Boeing look like they’ve been playing tic tac toe against a chess master,” says an analyst.

Boeing could help launch orbiting space station for the moon

“We should have a lunar base by now. What the hell has been going on?”

City of Marysville adds HR director

The City of Marysville has hired Bill Kolden as its new human… Continue reading

Economic Alliance to host After Hours event at Clothes for Kids

The next Economic Alliance Snohomish County Business After Hours event is from… Continue reading

Speed Networking planned by Lynnwood Chamber

The next Good Morning, Lynnwood Chamber Speed Networking is from 7:30 to… Continue reading

More self-awareness could help build a better medical system

Marcy Shimada of Edmonds Family Medicine writes the second in a series about fixing our health care system.

Scratch-and-sniff brochures aimed to prevent disaster

Puget Sound Energy has distributed more than a million scratch-and-sniff brochures to… Continue reading

Most Read