Critical Infrastructure Security , Geo Focus: The United Kingdom , Geo-Specific

UK Unveils Agency to Counter Threats to Private Sector

The New National Protective Security Authority to Operate Under MI5
UK Unveils Agency to Counter Threats to Private Sector
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak poses outside 10 Downing Street as he assumes office on Oct. 25, 2022. (Image: Shutterstock)

The U.K. government says a new national agency will work with the private sector to stymie national security threats including foreign hackers after British intellectual property.

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The new National Protective Security Authority, part of domestic intelligence agency MI5, will offer training and guidance to organizations ranging from tech startups to universities.

The new agency will coordinate with the country's National Cyber Security Center and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

The new agency came as Westminster announced an update to British foreign policy identifying Russia and China as significant threats. "China poses an epoch-defining challenge to the type of international order we want to see," said the government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Britain will work with China on matters such as climate change, the document states. "But where there are attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to coerce or create dependencies, we will work closely with others to push back against them."

Beijing has a long-standing practice of stealing trade secrets in its bid to compete as a 21st-century superpower, whether through hacking or a Chinese national caught digging out genetically modified corn from Iowa farm fields. A 2017 study on the effects of Chinese intellectual property theft in the United States accused China of stealing up to $480 billion worth of damage to the economy annually through theft of trade secrets, pirated software and counterfeit goods.

MI5 Director Ken McCallum and U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray took the unusual step of addressing business leaders last year in a joint appearance at MI5 headquarters in London in speeches that underscored the challenge of Chinese intellectual property theft. "The Chinese government is set on stealing your technology - whatever it is that makes your industry tick," Wray said. It "sees cyber as the pathway to cheat and steal on a massive scale."

The U.S. announced in February a dedicated task force to prevent exploitation of Western technologies by China and other repressive governments.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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