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#DTXEurope: Former Chief of MI6 Reflects on Growth of Tech and Cyber-Threats

At Digital Transformation EXPO Europe Sir John Sawers, former chief, Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), explored the recent growth of cyber technology and its impact on cyber-threats and cyber-defense.

Reflecting upon his career at MI6, Sawers noted how cyber and technology became an integral part of the Secret Intelligence Service's work during his tenure.

“Even at MI6, a human-intelligence service, I had to increase our spend on technology from about a third of our budget to half of our budget during the five years that I was chief of the service,” he explained. “Technology was such a big driver of everything we did; the power of data analytics in terms of piecing together puzzles about terrorist plots and identifying who was posing a threat was an absolutely vital tool.”

Sawers saw a “lot of life move online,” including the significant rise of extremist websites and chatrooms, and “the role of cyber developed as both an attack tool, and as a crucial part of national defenses.”

This has led to hostile cyber-attacks, particularly nation state attacks, becoming ever more sophisticated, powerful and capable of reaching diverse, widespread targets. He added that, through cyber and tech evolutions, the “skills of offensive cyber are becoming readily available,” and whilst defenses are getting better and better at both a corporate and state level, the “attack tools available to hostile actors are getting more and more powerful.

“That battle, in the cyber-domain, is bound to continue.”

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