Imminent Cuts to British Security Leave Businesses Insecure

Despite reports that indicate that cases of cybercrime and espionage are increasing, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, an intelligence-led agency sponsored by the Home Office, will have to reduce its staff of 4,400 by up to 400 members.

Home Office budget decisions, announced this week, could lead the organization to cut an estimated 200 to 400 members of its cybercrime unit in an effort to streamline more resources into drug and human slave trafficking divisions, The Times report stated.

SOCA was launched as an amalgam of numerous other law enforcement and investigative agencies in April of last year, under the direction of Prime Minister Tony Blair. The staff cuts come a little more than a year after the merger that combined the National Crime Squad; the National Criminal Intelligence Service, an arm of the HM Revenue and Customs division on serious drug trafficking; the Immigration Service's unit dealing with human trafficking; and the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit -- the police division formed in 2001 to deal specifically with cybercrime. Critics say that the cuts will diminish Britain's security defenses at a pivotal time when cybercrime and Web-based threats are on the rise. The cuts come on the heels of Britain's largest data security breach last month in which records of more than 25 million people on two CDs were lost in transit between HM Revenue and Customs and the National Audit offices.

Web security company Finjan recently released statistics that indicated China has stepped up its global Web attacks. In particular, Finjan investigated an attack that used "zero-day" vulnerabilities -- malicious exploits for which there is no security patches -- that were designed to steal confidential information from governmental organizations. The Times disclosed last week that the MI5's director general had issued a letter to businessmen upon suspecting that Chinese organizations are using special software designed to hack into company network in order to disclose vital information.

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In addition, a recent McAfee report, compiled with data from NATO, the FBI and other leading universities and organizations, indicated that governments in 120 countries and other allied groups are using the Internet for cyber espionage and attacks. In particular, a copious amount of addresses were linked to China.

Dave Marcus, security and information manager at McAfee Avert Labs, said the international Chinese threat was due in part to its sheer size, adding that it's not necessarily Chinese governmental organizations but rather attacks and malware coming from addresses based in the country. "Addresses can be spoofed, traffic can be faked, but with so many pieces of intelligence coming from China, it's hard to cry 'fake' too many times," he said.