MoD faced barrage of botnet attacks

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had a barrage of six hundred thousand automated botnet attacks a day, an ex-employee has told Techeye.

The source, who worked for the organisation three years ago, also said that many of these came from China, telling us that the attacks decreased significantly when addresses from China were blocked. However, these came back when hackers managed to find a way around the block.

We contacted a security expert with inside knowledge of the problem, who agreed with the comments: “While there’s not much I can say about the workings and findings at the MoD, it’s not a secret that the UK on a whole suffers from botnet attacks from other countries,” he told TechEye.

“This is particularly a problem in the Government sector, corporations and other secret services. These can come from as far afield as Australia, but the most common attacks we see are those from the likes of China.

“Cyber attacks and cyber espionage are only going to get worse and as the MoD discovered no amount of blocking will be able to deter these.”

Ironically the comments come as a government report today  for the first time highlights that UK cyber crime costs £27 billion a year.

However, the government warns that the costs could be much higher. Business face the brunt of the attacks with the report attributing £21 billion of costs to them,  while the government shed £2.2 billion and citizens splurged £3.1 billion.

Security minister Baroness Neville-Jones told delegates at a press briefing this morning in London that the government was determined to work with industry to tackle cyber crime.

At the moment, cyber criminals are “fearless because they do not think they will be caught”, she said, before adding that the Government had a strategy to tackle the problem and had committed £650m over the next four years to it.

However, a the source told Techeye that the Government shouldn’t just throw money at the situation.

“The government needs to ensure it employs people who can do the right in depth research rather than just throwing money at the cyber security budget,” he said.

According to the report, nearly half of the £21bn cost to business was made up of intellectual property theft. This included illegal downloading and file sharing as well as industrial espionage, such as the theft of designs and commercial secrets. The hardest-hit sectors were pharmaceuticals, biotech, electronics, IT and chemicals.

This was something that was highlighted in a report by security firm McAfee last week, which found that hackers in China had hacked into the computers of five multinational oil and gas companies.

McAfee said in its Night Dragon whitepaper that hackers had stolen bidding plans and other critical proprietary information. This can be used to detrimental effect and give competitors an advantage.