London firm lost £800m in cyberattacks, MI5 boss reveals

The firm was attacked by a hostile state, according to the security agency

A major London-listed company lost £800 million in potential revenues following a cyberattack from a hostile state on its computer systems, the chief of MI5 has revealed.

The financial loss was "not just through intellectual property (IP) loss, but also from commercial disadvantage in contractual negotiations", Jonathan Evans, director general of the Security Service, said in a speech at the London Mayor's Mansion House yesterday.

"They will not be the only corporate victim of these problems," he added.

Evans did not name the UK company, or the hostile state behind the cyberattack.

Fear of a state-sponsored cyber threat is widespread, according to the 2012 Detica Cyber Security Monitor. The survey found that 43 percent of businesses believed that those involved in industrial espionage were a likely threat to their company, while 56 percent of these respondents were concerned about state-sponsored spies.

Martin Sutherland, managing director of BAE Systems Detica, said: "We're aware of multiple cases where companies have experienced real business loss as a result of cyber espionage.

"In our Cost of Cyber Crime report with the Cabinet Office, we estimated that the theft of IP and industrial espionage cost the UK £17 billion a year. It is clear that the cost of cyber crime is growing. Raising awareness and building capacity to resist threats - across both the public and private sectors - should be our top priority."

Earlier this year, David Willetts, minister of state for universities and science, called for businesses to disclose their experiences of successful and unsuccessful cyberattacks.

He believed that this would help to raise companies' awareness about cybersecurity.

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