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BAE Taps Cyber Skills Honed for Spooks to Win Clients

  • A business started for government is aiming to serve companies
  • Defense contractor sees a potential market of $60 billion
Source: Getty Images

In January, BAE Systems Plc got a routine call from a new client: The health-care company’s computer systems were mysteriously crashing. BAE’s sleuths soon discovered a dangerous new strain of a virus called Qbot.

Using skills honed via years of work for British intelligence services, BAE’s cyber specialists traced the worm to a shadowy Russian-speaking criminal network. It had infected more than 54,000 computers worldwide, mostly in the U.S., stealing usernames and passwords from targets such as hospitals, universities, police departments and big banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America.