UK, France host cybersecurity conference to tackle ‘hackers for hire’ threat

The UK and France are hosting 35 nations as well as businesses and technology leaders at an inaugural conference in London to tackle “hackers for hire” and the expanding market for cyber attack tools.

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Representatives from technology giants including Apple, BAE Systems, Google and Microsoft are attending the two-day event that got underway in the UK capital Tuesday.

The conference will look at ways of addressing the commercial market for cyber snooping and attack tools as well as “the threat they pose to international security, human rights and the stability of cyberspace”.

The governments and businesses taking part in the London conference are due to signµ a declaration dubbed the “Pall Mall process“, which commits to joint action to regulate the use of these potentially dangerous tools.

The participants are scheduled to meet again to discuss the evolution of the latest cyber security challenges in Paris in 2025.

This joint London-Paris initiative is based on observations that – in addition to risks identified in cyberspace from state actors, criminal groups and activists – legal threats from the private sector are also becoming an issue.

The two-day forum will also look into how professional hackers are deploying new technologies and how they use them for the benefit of hostile states or industrial espionage.

The organisers have stressed, however, that the aim is not to ban these tools – which can also be used to protect national security – but rather to combat their misuse for criminal purposes. 

According to Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the commercial market for cyber surveillance and attack tools is doubling every 10 years.

 ‘Hackers for hire’ 

NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester said the demand for the capability to conduct malicious cyber operations was “growing all the time”.

He added that a thriving global cyber security sector is needed to “maintain the integrity of our digital society”.

According to a UK government statement, “Where these tools are used maliciously, attacks can access victims’ devices, listen to calls, obtain photos and remotely operate a camera and microphone via ‘zero-click’ spyware.”

The threat of “hackers for hire” carrying out corporate espionage or services and of the tools being used by hostile states also threatens national security.

“As the threat from malicious use of cyber tools grows, working with like-minded partners is essential to tackle an issue which does not respect borders,” said Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, who is co-hosting the event with France.

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