"The internet has developed from a communication network to what is called the 'internet of things' – connecting via the internet the buildings we work in, the cars we drive, our traffic management systems, Bank ATMs, our industrial control systems and much more," he said. "This increases the potential for mischief and leads to risks of real world damage as well as information loss."
MI-5, like the security agencies of allied countries including the United States, are working together to put in place IT security standards that make cyberespionage and sabotage more difficult, though not impossible, Evans said.
Recent admissions that the U.S. and Israel were behind the Flame malware attacks on Iran and probably Stuxnet and Duqu as well don't help the credibility of any Western security agency, according to Graham Cluely of Sophos Antivisus' Naked Security blog.
"This area of cybercrime is shrouded in the deepest, thickest fog - and attribution continued to be a monumental problem," Cluley wrote. "But speculation about government and military use of the internet to spy continues to grow."
Unfortunately, neither Cluley nor Evans offered any significant advice or new insight into how to protect our individual or corporate selves against the onslaught of industrial-scale cyber-intelligence operations.
Both cited regular updates, attention to the routine details of security and adherence to best-practice guides that highlight habits common to those least often victimized.
It all sounded a bit like being told to put on your raincoat and not forget your umbrella before going out on a stormy day.
Somehow even the kind of brolly MI-5's sister agency MI-6 put together (for the movies anyway) don’t seem like they'd offer enough help to even slow down what appears to be a rapidly developing full-scale free-fire zone among security agencies discovering it's possible to attack an enemy's most deadly weapons and richest store of secrets and still get home by dinner.
"Astonishing," Evans called it.
No kidding. Especially the part of the story Evans didn't mention – the one describing how tightly U.S. and British intelligence operations work together and the role MI-5 played in developing their own cyberespionage capabilities, showing foreign governments how the new toys work.