The UK is waking up to the fact that business secrets are being stolen on an industrial scale – and could be used in cyber-espionage attacks.

MWR InfoSecurity has issued a warning about stolen corporate secrets following comments to the BBC from British intelligence sources about the problem.

Alex Fidgen, director at MWR InfoSecurity, says: “Corporations must understand that their information can be used in sequence to piece together substantial advantage for a competitor who is sponsored by a foreign state.

“The UK government has already made the link between cyber espionage activities and current and future loss of corporation tax, but the background to all of these attacks indicates that the economic empowerment of the ‘attacker nation’ could have a significant impact in the UK´s economy.”

He adds: “This is the landscape of the present and future, and we can expect all governments developing such capabilities to use cyber tactics both offensively and defensively.”

Chancellor George Osborne has recently promoted the UK’s cyber-budget, which will include a £210-million investment in the National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP). He previously questioned spending on other more conventional anti-terrorism programmes rather than cyber-security.

Fidgen says: “The budget increase along with the release of this information and its timing appears to confirm the wish of the UK government to show the ‘bigger picture’ and highlight some of the substantial challenges that are being faced.

“Businesses need to understand that the current nature of the attacks is far more sophisticated than the customary IT security standards. Corporations have to step up and respond to these attacks. They need to use their financial resources more effectively and start thinking differently if they want to protect their intellectual property.”