London: Hacker attacks on British government websites have rocketed to "disturbing" levels, a top official has said.
Iain Lobham, director of the country's biggest intelligence agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), said government computers containing sensitive data as well as defence, technology and engineering firms' designs were among targets, The Sun reported.
GCHQ is one of the three British intelligence agencies -- the others being the Security Service (also known as MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6).
Lobham said there was "one significant (but unsuccessful) attempt to break into the Foreign Office" computers.
"We are witnessing the development of a global criminal market place -- a parallel black economy where cyber dollars are traded in exchange for British citizens' credit card details," he said.
Cyber crime costs Britain 27 billion pounds (around USD 43 billion) a year.