The UK is coming under repeated and severe cyberattacks on core infrastructure according to the head of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The chilling warning from GCHQ director Iain Lobban outlines how British government computer systems have suffered "significant disruption" from internet worms, with around 1,000 targeted email attacks per month.

Real and credible threat

Lobban says that the threat posed to power stations and emergency services from these cyberattacks is "real and credible" (using that well-worn phrase from the language of the war on terror).

"Cyberspace lowers the bar for entry to the espionage game, both for states and for criminal actors," Lobban told the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"Cyberspace is contested every day, every hour, every minute, every second. I can vouch for that from the displays in our own operations centre of minute-by-minute cyber attempts to penetrate systems around the world."

The GCHQ director says that intellectual property (IP) theft is also taking place on a massive scale, which, he added, is a major threat to UK businesses and national security.

Getting cyber right

"Fundamentally, getting cyber right enables the UK's continuing economic prosperity," said the GCHQ boss.

"There's a clear defensive angle. In order to flourish, a knowledge economy needs to protect from exploitation the intellectual property at the heart of the creative and high-tech industry sectors.

"It needs to maintain the integrity of its financial and commercial services."

Via PC Pro and the BBC.