MI5 has released its terrorist threat assessment and safety advice to the public for the first time on a new website.
Britain's security service says that the main reason is to enable more people, especially businesses, to better protect themselves.
Al-Qaeda and associated groups are said to be the main terrorist danger to the UK and to British interests.
The site also reveals a top 10 list of safety tips for businesses and other organisations including staff recruitment, risk assessments and mail-handling procedures.
Do you think the security advice will help to protect against the threat of terrorism?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of the opinion we have received:
Most of the advice is common sense. However, the strange thing about common sense is it's not that common! I've lost count of the number of bags I've seen unattended on the tube over the past few weeks, and the number of people who just sit there and ignore them. There is such apathy in London amongst the general public that I don't see how a terrorist attack could possibly be avoided. We need to overcome our reluctance to question "who owns this bag?". Without that, all the security advice in the world will not make a difference.
Whether the 'rose spectacle' brigade think it's just to keep the public scared or not, you have to admit it's a good idea. We could have done with this kind of advice years ago when the IRA were blowing up innocent people in Oxford Street. It's just now the bombers won't give a warning, they will just detonate for maximum carnage. What a lot of people don't realise is that large companies have bomb procedures (The council I work in has had them for years). All the Water companies have regular anti-terrorist training as well. So yes it's a good idea and I'm behind it 100%. This affects all of us whether you support war or not.
Glad they did. It will hopefully wake up the nation a little. This 'head in the sand' attitude that is prevalent needs a kick. This matter will not go away for many generations and the more people prepare for forthcoming terrors the better.
John Karran, Liverpool, UK
I, for one, am not fooled by the constant attempts by the government et al to raise the "Fear Factor" bar even higher. Are people really so gullible that they will hand over more and more of their freedoms in order to breathe more easily? Dear oh dear.
S Devine, Woking, UK
I am shocked by the prevailing attitude in the UK that the government is not to be trusted, even when it comes to disseminating information regarding security. Not everything is a conspiracy people.
I too think that this has more to do with keeping the public scared and more likely to put up with David Blunkett's schemes than it has to do with any meaningful wish to inform the population, most of whom have fast internet access now and are no longer taken in by this sort of thing.
Dave H, Aylesbury , UK
I think that all the advice printed is common sense and therefore unlikely to harm our intelligence capability. It is however a shame that while the government sees fit to warn us of CBRN attacks it does nothing direct to protect the general public. Yes our intelligence services are the best on earth but I still feel that the government should, as they did in WWII, issue the public with gas-masks etc. I cannot believe how lightly some people commenting on this page take the threats to our nation's security that I'm sure must occur daily. As for criticising MI5, MI6 & GCHQ I think that you are mad. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be able to sleep at night.
Mark Herbage, Durham, UK
Duncan, no 'MI5' aren't the people who told us about Saddam's WMD, that was 'MI6'. These are the people spending their lives to protect yours as you go about your daily business.
Andrew Paterson, UK
The advice MI-5 released is hardly ground breaking - but I totally support the move - MI5 is entrusted with our security, they are a government agency and as such I feel that it is their duty to give us advice. It is the same as the Food Standards Agency telling us what food is safe and what is not, and not one person would question that!
It is not their job to communicate with the public. If there is advice from the Security Service that needs to communicated then the channel is through Special Branch to police forces around the country. Trying to give the service a nice public face is likely to damage their effectiveness. Providing they have the correct relationship with police and courts and are answerable to parliament, no direct relationship with the public at large is necessary.
Jim Fraser, UK
Aren't these the same people who told us about the threat from Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? Would you take advice from someone who gets it so publicly wrong?
Duncan, Salisbury, UK
Be aware that the threat assessment information has been released, in part, as food for thought for the consumption of potential terrorist operatives. As part of the security "cat and mouse" game, it's not necessarily an accurate reflection of MI5's private perception of the terrorist threat to the UK.
Chris Hunter, Bedford, UK
I believe that certain security advice should be classified, as some may alarm the British public, although some should be released if a real direct threat has been made.
So long as you are careful, and use you brains, then there should be no need for MI5 to send out that information, its just plain common sense.. sadly lacking in a lot of people..
Martin Williams, St Helens, UK
Is this not the same as letting Alex Ferguson into the Arsenal dressing room at half-time?
Brendan , Belfast
I don't actually think this is what MI5 really believe. But it is a good device for boosting public confidence in the country's defence/intelligence systems.
After watching the Hutton outcome, I think releasing any advice or any document will not make any difference. Everything has interpretations, it will all matter, the day there is a perfect computer that can interpret things without any spin.
Kulkarni, Pune, India
The states - victims of terror must be concentrated primary on the cause of a global hatred to their countries. Clever fights the causes, not consequences.
Iouli Andreev, Vienna, Austria
In this age of sophisticated and organized terrorism, it's important that safety tips are given to businesses to reduce, risks and injury, from violent acts. But the world will be much safer if the Western superpowers had equitable foreign policies and effort was made by all sides in creating a better understanding between cultures and religions. Leaders of Muslim Nations should take the lead in this.
Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE
Security warnings should come from the security services rather than the government, to ensure they are not politically motivated, and therefore more soundly based.
Louise, Sydney, Australia
Hiding behind barriers doesn't strike me as a pleasant way to spend the rest of my life. The way to be safe from terrorism is to eliminate terrorists. Rehabilitate them if possible; kill them if not. Their choice.
John Doyle, California, USA
It is brilliant that our special services are doing this, but in reality, if a chemical bomb were to go off in central London, or anywhere in the UK, we would panic and the rules go out of the window. The ordinary public would go into chaos, people wouldn't be standing there reading their leaflets "the first thing to do is..." its just not the way, a person would just run.
Brendan Chilton, Ashford, Kent, UK
We have a right to be informed, to take our own precautions. But keep the coal mines in good working order, and the miners well trained we the public may need them, if there is a nuclear attack.
Frances Williamson, Middlesbrough, Teesside
Those perpetually inclined to mistrust anything and everything that government says should just shut up and do the opposite--live in oblivious bliss.
Michael, London/ Tokyo
These security measures are recommended to be adopted by every business, and carry a moderate degree of difficulty to implement. The likelihood of any one business being hit by a terrorist attack is still very small, although if an attack occurs these measures might save some lives if widely implemented.
But meanwhile there is no advice or regulation given on workplace smoking, which affects nearly every business every day, and is known beyond a doubt to result in loss of health and life. The public and government need to heed all risks in a prudent manner but also put them in proper perspective.
Jeremy, Houston, USA
I believe the British public have the right to information that concerns a threat of terrorism. Releasing classified information will prepare the public for what maybe to come.
Chris, Manchester, England
The security services have been releasing 'advice' since the days of Philby, Burgess and McLean!
Let's see. No security advice and we walk around blissfully oblivious to potentially dangerous situations OR receive some security advice and at least be able to have some choice in the risks we take. I'll take the latter thank you very much.
I have been in the security industry in one guise or another for over 15 years. There is nothing new in what MI5 is advising; in fact most of the top 10 tips are common sense. I believe the two main stumbling blocks for the majority of security matters in business are lack of commitment from Executives in terms of money and time, and secondly, low staff awareness of security matters. Companies need to treat education and awareness of security matters (both physical and I.T. based) for their staff as a matter of urgency, and commit to security in terms of long-term planning and investment and not just pay it lip service while high risk situations are present.
Mark, Herts, UK
The publishing of this advice is just another element in the government's efforts to create an unwarranted climate of fear in the public, like tanks at Heathrow, highly publicised swoops (only for those arrested to be quietly released without trial some weeks later) etc, so that they can introduce pet projects like identity cards.
John, York, UK
It's just not very James Bond is it?
John, London, UK
No-one trusts the government to give good advice. When BSE threatened health, top priority was the beef industry, until the truth could no longer be denied. Listen to what the government says and assess its likely accuracy, but only as part of your decision to decide the best course.
Mike Shepherd, UK
It all looks like pretty general advice, I don't think they would be daft enough to divulge any specifics. Some of the advice given sounds quite sensible. It's a depressing thought but perhaps buildings in the future will all need to have bomb proof glass etc. It would save many lives and nasty injuries.
Helen, Exeter, UK
The very fact that there has not been a terrorist incident recently in our country, and that we hear on the news about police swoops and the discovery of 'bomb factories' and the like, is proof to me that MI5 is doing a good job. Publishing useful and well thought out advice to the public is helpful and hardly likely to include information that potential terrorists have not thought of themselves!
Scott W, Maidenhead, UK
This is just another loophole in our countries defence. It should stay secret!
Katy Giles, Devon, UK
I agree with the other people's points about giving terrorists too much information - it would actually be counter-productive. General security advice should be given by the Home Office or Foreign Office, and this sort of 'secret' advice should be given only to those who know how to deal with it sensibly, which isn't the public!
Dave Edwards, London, UK
How do we know that the information released is really what MI5 believe? I don't think they would be stupid enough to tell everyone the best way to attack Britain, so either they are leaving out a lot of information or creating a red herring for the terrorists.
Chris Chen, London, UK
Perhaps the Foreign Office could also report how its failed policies over the last twelve years in particular has put us into this position. I find it interesting that this has been released the same week as ID cards have been put on the agenda. The Government seems determined to continue in its policy to keep the population scared which will help them introduce a scheme designed to remove our liberties.
Nigel Collins, Brighton, UK
Any advice that could possibly help save a life is worth giving. Maybe it won't make a big difference, but it does outline the role the public can play in the fight against terrorism. People seem to expect the security services and government to do all they can to keep us safe, but don't seem to realise that the most effective resource the security services have in the fight against terrorism is YOU and ME.
Nick, Watford, UK
Personally I'd like the secret services to remain secret and, crucially, effective.
John Hartley, UK
This move will help the terrorists more than the businesses and other organisations that M15 are trying to protect.
Raymond Rudaizky, London.
Interesting that the government is seeking the support of businesses. Bearing in mind that so much of what is going on in Iraq is linked to corporations and mercenaries, this just shows how distant government and mainstream politics in Britain now is from the electorate.
Andrew Preston, Axbridge, UK
Is this the same MI5 which 'advised' that Iraq had WMDs which it could fire in 45 minutes of an attack? I think I would take their advice with a pinch of salt.
Daniel Coombs, UK
Bomb-proof net curtains, eh? I'm glad to see the spirit of 'Protect and Survive' is alive and well.
Adam, London, UK
I read the whole MI5 site today, and I have to say I agree totally with the decision. It makes me feel safer knowing they are looking after our country, and it makes me feel happier that they don't ignore the public's fears about terrorism. May Britain forever remain a safe place to live!
David Hainsworth, Braintree, UK
In the long run it is not possible to defend against a stream of individuals whose sole wish is to hurt us. The only way to reduce terrorism is to tackle the issues that cause the hatred. As such, posting information on the Internet is a very superficial solution to reducing terrorist attacks.
James Miers, London
Has anyone criticising the advice actually looked at the website? I have and it's just fairly simple, common sense advice aimed at reassuring the public. The rest of the site is quite interesting too.
I find it interesting that the British government is doing this and other things which potentially infringe our civil liberties (ID cards, changing the law to make it easier to imprison people without charge) at the same time that US figures show that the level of terrorism has actually gone down as have the numbers of deaths caused by it. This just increases my suspicions that the government is using this 'helpful' information to scare us in to thinking that the threat is much greater than it actually is in order to make people more agreeable to infringements on their rights as individuals.
Kate Leech, Oxford, UK
There's no real information on the MI5 site. This is just a PR exercise. The bias towards "protection for business" demonstrates the real motivation of this initiative for which the public taxpayer has footed the bill.
Graham Brown-Martin, Port Antonio, Jamaica
Ok, this is the most insane idea I have ever heard of! When the country's last line of defence releases advice that terrorists could use to their advantage you realise things are going wrong.
Michael Joslin, New Malden, UK
I'm not sure if it will make much difference. They are not going to be able to publish the real 'nitty gritty' intelligence, so I can't see them advising anything more that telling us to remain vigilant and report suspicious activities to the police, which I would hope most of us know to do anyway.
Mark A, Manchester, UK
I think it will prove counter-productive, though I think that the threat of terrorism is wildly over-exaggerated anyway. Making this sort of thing public simply gives terrorists key pointers to how the security services are thinking, and therefore to devise and plan different strategies.
I thought the Home Office already published this sort of information. I think we need a single government site for all terrorist safety advice.
Ian Dobson, Brentwood