In a departure from standard operating procedure for the man in charge of the United Kingdom’s domestic spy service, Jonathan Evans, director general of MI5, gave a public speech laying out cyberthreats faced by the West. He maintained that the “extent of what is going on is astonishing with industrial-scale processes involving many thousands of people lying behind both state-sponsored cyberespionage and organized cybercrime.”
ABC News, which covered the speech, said it learned from sources other than Mr. Evans that, “the U.K., the U.S. and several European allies have a robust discussion underway on how to counter cyberespionage by perhaps the most significant state operator — China.”
In his speech to U.K. financial executives a month prior to the London Olympic Summer Games, Evans pointed out that the “Games present an attractive target for our enemies and they will be at the centre of the world’s attention in a month or so. No doubt some terrorist networks have thought about whether they could pull off an attack.” He added “in back rooms and cars on the streets of this country there is no shortage of individuals talking about wanting to mount terror attacks here.”
Since 2001, there were approximately 86 terror plots against the U.K. and U.S. Over the last seven years, none, including “the printer bomb plot” have been successful. However, Evans noted, a “terrorist only has to get lucky once.”
In addition to the London Summer Olympics, Evans discussed another target “close to home” for his audience of financial executives. That was the rise of cyberterrorism as a result of the political unrest brought on by the European debt crisis.
“If I may be allowed a Rumsfeld moment,” Evans summed up referring to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s distinction between ‘known knowns,’ ‘known unknowns,’ and ‘unknown unknowns’, “there are of course the uncertainties we can be certain about — like terrorism, cybersecurity challenges and hostile intelligence activities by states. But there are also things we remain uncertain about.”