Hackers may already be secretly running company computer systems because firms are too complacent and falsely believe they are protected, the head of GCHQ warned yesterday.
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Iain Lobban, director of the intelligence agency, said too many businesses have “misplaced” confidence over their security against cyber attacks and need to take the threat more seriously.
He said some may not realise their systems have already been compromised, sensitive information stolen or even have their entire network until the control of criminals.
The agency revealed one, unnamed, security firm that ran large Government contracts went bankrupt after hackers released sensitive emails and data.
Another, a world leading pharmaceutical company, had a five-year, £1 billion product research programme compromised after the data was stolen in a cyber attack and allowed a cheaper rival product to hit the market before it was launched.
Mr Lobban told business leaders last night that the size and pace of cyber attacks was now at an unprecedented level and threatened the UK’s economic security.