MI6 must harness new technologies to combat hostile states, security service chief warns

MI6 must harness new technologies to combat hostile states, security service chief warns
© Getty Images

MI6’s headquarters are located at Vauxhall Cross in London

– Getty Images

The intelligence service needs to become more open to carry out its secret work and harness technology to combat the aggression of hostile states in the digital age, the head of MI6 has warned.

Artificial Intelligence, quantum computing and digital technology have completely changed the way spies can work to protect the state, and the service must work with technological companies to take advantage of the latest innovations.

In his first speech as the head of the Service, ‘C’, Richard Moore will say that the modern day James Bond cannot depend on a resident experts alone ‘’like Q in the Bond movies’’ to counter the new threats being faced.

It was recently revealed that there is a section staffed by real life ‘Q’ s at MI6’s headquarters at Vauxhall Cross in London.

But speaking at the think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the intelligence chief will point out that biometric data and facial recognition, for example, have made it far harder for intelligence officers to assume false identities in hostile countries without being exposed and put in danger.

There was now a pressing need to “tap into” the UK’s and international technology industry, Mr Moore wanted to stress.

“I cannot stress enough what a sea change this is in MI6’s culture, ethos and way of working, since we have traditionally relied primarily on our own capabilities to develop the world-class technologies we need to stay secret and deliver against our mission” Mr Moore will say.

The new necessity will include “partnering with the private sector to find new technologies” as “advances in quantum engineering and engineered biology will change entire industries.” MI6 and the UK’s MI5 and GCHQ, it has been revealed, has an agreement with Amazon to host their cloud data.

Mr Moore listed China, Russia, Iran and international terrorism as the “Big Four” priorities for the (west’s) intelligence world. Adversary states are preparing for the new undercover war, he said: “our adversaries are pouring money and ambition into mastering artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology because they know… this will give them leverage.”

Senior security and military officials have repeatedly warned that the UK was in the danger of falling behind in the espionage intelligence race.

Mr Moore said: “I am paid to look at the threat side of the ledger. MI6 deals with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. We cannot hope to replicate the global tech industry, so we must tap into it. Through the National Security Strategic Investment Fund we are opening up our mission problems to those with talent in organisations that wouldn’t normally work with national security.”

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