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

Driving the Dodge Demon, the world’s fastest production car

Our test took place at US 131 Motorsports Park, on a fully prepped professional drag strip.

Mountlake Terrace-based 1st Security Bank wasn’t traded publicly during the recession, but it has seen a steady growth since the recession. (Jim Davis / HBJ)
How stocks in local banks fared since the recession

Every bank was hit hard during the recession, but most have bounced back in a big way.

Boeing bolsters team for potential 797 with leading engineer

Terry Beezhold has been chief project engineer for the 777X program.

Tom Hoban
Are millennials warming up to life in suburbia?

They dominate the apartment market and their wants need to be accounted for, says columnist Tom Hoban.

Camano artist mixes flask, paintings for successful cocktail

Art flasks prove popular as bachelorette gifts, birthday presents and wedding favors.

Katie Garrison
New agent joins Re/Max Elite’s office in Snohomish

Re/Max Elite welcomed a new agent to its Snohomish office. Katie Garrison… Continue reading

UW Bothell Pub Talk looks at Greenhouse Gas Mystery

The Greenhouse Gas Mystery is the topic for the next UW Bothell… Continue reading

EvergreenHealth Monroe pharmacy interns travel to Ghana

Earlier this year, University of Washington School of Pharmacy students and EvergreenHealth… Continue reading

Everett Clinic Foundation gives $6,500 to nonprofit Christmas House

The Everett Clinic Foundation recently awarded a $6,500 operating grant to the… Continue reading

Most Read