Several UK security startups have joined prime minister David Cameron on his visit to Washington DC today, where he is talking to US president Barack Obama about the escalating threat of cyber terrorism.

The aim of the trip is to improve the flow of information between the US and UK about threats, according to Downing Street.

David Cameron has turned to the US in the battle against cyber terrorism © No.10

The world leaders will also discuss plans to implement a rolling programme of ‘war game’ cyber attacks on each other, which will be conducted by GCHQ, MI5 and the FBI.

Downing Street said the first simulated attack will be on the financial sector. During this exercise, the Bank of England and commercial banks in the City of London and Wall Street will be targeted in a bid to ensure adequate security measures are in place.

The leaders are also expected to talk about privacy issues around encrypted messages. 

Speaking in the aftermath of recent cyber attacks, Cameron said that there should be no "means of communication" which "we cannot read".

It's likely therefore that he will talk to the US president about getting internet giants like Google and Facebook to share encrypted messages with governments. 

The two-day trip follows the Sony hacking scandal and the breach of the US military's Central Command's Twitter feed. 

Twelve UK companies were selected to join the PM on the mission. Startups in attendance include Techworld's Enterprise Startup of the Year, Darktrace, and threat exchange platform Surevine.

Cameron said: “The UK is already leading the way in cyber security and this government is committed to ensuring it continues to be a leader in this multi-billion dollar industry.

“That’s why on this trip I’m showcasing some of the leading UK cyber security companies including Surevine from London who will have the chance to meet investors and build their business in the US.”

Darktrace

Darktrace said its CEO Nicole Eagan is there to discuss cyber security policy with Obama and drum up business in the US. 

According to Eagan, hackers (or "hostile agents" as she refers to them), are developing increasingly stealthy and sophisticated attacks on valued data and IP. 

“Last year we saw the damage that these threats can cause to hard earned reputations and how they undermine the trust consumers have in a company and its products," she said. "Traditional methods of security are no longer enough and it is time for a new machine learning approach that can identify cyber incidents in real time before they turn into a crisis.”

Darktrace's technology, powered by a new breakthrough in Bayesian mathematics developed at the University of Cambridge, assumes that a network has already been infiltrated and that some of the risk might come from a company's own employees. Meanwhile, legacy technologies have focused on protecting assets through a virtual version of putting locks on all the doors and windows. 

Due to growing customer demand in the US, Darktrace announced today that it has hired two former NSA staff in its US offices, adding to its international team of senior cyber security experts.

Surevine 

Surevine, whose platform allows organisations to share cyber threat information in real time, believes businesses in the US and the UK should be sharing cyber threat information (preferably on its platform). 

Surevine CEO Stuart Murdoch, said: "Greater collaboration between the UK and US is crucial to successfully detecting and combating cyber threat.

"We need solutions that help create greater communication across all borders; between countries, industries and organisations. The Cyber-Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) platform is one example of such collaboration, helping companies form a united front against hackers, and share information securely about the nature of cyber attacks."

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