MI5 chief warns of rising threat from hostile states stealing high-tech secrets

The director general of MI5, Ken McCallum, has warned that the UK is facing a “sharp rise in aggressive attempts” by hostile states to steal its high-tech secrets, especially in the fields of artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology. He said that the stakes were “incredibly high” and that the countries that lead the way in these emerging technologies would have the power to shape the future of the world.

MI5 hosts unprecedented security summit with Five Eyes allies

McCallum made his remarks at the start of an unprecedented security summit hosted by MI5 in Palo Alto, California, where he was joined by the leaders of the intelligence agencies from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes alliance. The summit was aimed at raising awareness and fostering collaboration among the Five Eyes and the tech industry to counter the threat posed by hostile states, especially China, which has been accused of engaging in widespread cyber espionage and intellectual property theft.

The summit was also the first time that the heads of the Five Eyes intelligence agencies appeared together in public, signalling their shared concern and commitment to protect their national interests and values. McCallum said that the summit was “an unprecedented response to an unprecedented threat”.

MI5 chief warns of rising threat from hostile states stealing high-tech secrets

MI5 launches ‘Think Before You Link’ campaign to educate government workers

As part of its efforts to combat the threat from hostile states, MI5 also launched a campaign called ‘Think Before You Link’, which aims to educate government workers about the risks of being approached by foreign spies on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. The campaign warns that at least 10,000 UK nationals have been contacted by fake profiles linked to hostile states in the past five years, and that some of them may have been lured into sharing secrets or compromising their positions.

The campaign advises government workers to follow “the four Rs”: recognise malicious profiles, realise the potential threat, report suspicious profiles to a security manager, and remove the profiles. The campaign also includes guides, posters and a video to raise awareness and provide practical tips on how to spot and avoid social engineering attempts.

MI5 urges tech industry to cooperate with intelligence agencies

McCallum also urged the tech industry to cooperate with the intelligence agencies and share information about any suspicious or malicious activities on their platforms. He said that the tech industry had a “vital role” to play in safeguarding national security and ensuring a “free and fair” digital environment. He added that the intelligence agencies were not seeking to undermine encryption or privacy, but rather to find “mutually beneficial solutions” that balance security and innovation.

He said that the intelligence agencies were ready to work with the tech industry in a “spirit of partnership” and that they had a “shared interest” in protecting emerging technologies from being stolen or exploited by hostile states. He said that by working together, they could ensure that these technologies would be used for good and not for evil.

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