HSBC has hired the former director general of MI5 to help beef up its protection against cyber criminals.

Sir Jonathan Evans joins the bank's board as a non-executive director and will also be part of its financial system vulnerabilities committee.

The 55-year-old's appointment comes six months after HSBC was fined close to $2 billion (£1.3bn) by US authorities amid allegations of money laundering and breaches of sanctions relating to operations in Mexico.

HSBC's Glasgow-born chairman Douglas Flint believes Sir Jonathan's knowledge will be of great value to the bank.

He said: "His experience and expertise gained from a career at the highest level of public service combating threats to data security, critical infrastructure and from international terrorism and organised crime will be of considerable value to the Board as it addresses its governance of systemic threats."

Sir Jonathan joined the security services in 1980 and spent 33 years working across a number of areas including domestic and international terrorism.

The Bristol University graduate was appointed to succeed Eliza Manningham-Buller as director general of the security services in April 2007.

In the New Year Honours list he was named Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath and in April it was announced he was stepping down from his role at MI5.

He has in the past talked publicly about the threat the UK faces from digital espionage.

Sir Jonathan joins a number of other heavy hitters on the financial system vulnerabilities committee which HSBC convened to improve its defences against financial crime.

Those already on the committee include Bill Hughes, previously head of the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency, former HMRC boss Dave Hartnett, ex-Financial Times chief executive Rona Fairhead and the former US deputy attorney general James Comey.

It was set up in January this year with its brief including "governance, oversight and policy guidance" on areas such as anti-money laundering systems, preventing terrorist financing and making sure the bank has no association with illegal drugs activities.

Sir Jonathan, born in 1958, will take up his post in August and will sit for an initial three-year term subject to re-election by shareholders. He will receive a £95,000 fee for being a non-executive director and an additional £30,000 for being a member of the vulnerabilities committee.

Cyber crime is seen as a growing threat to businesses and can range from identity theft and company systems being hacked to the flow of billions of pounds of illegally gained money.

The Federation of Small Businesses has estimated the cost of cyber crime to its 200,000 members at £800m each year, with more than 40% admitting to being a victim of digital criminals.

Last month, digital currency exchange Liberty Reserve was accused of helping criminals launder $6 billion of funds.

US prosecutors said the Costa Rica business had more than a million users around the world and almost all of its trade was related to suspected criminal activity.

On Friday, US defence secretary Chuck Hagel said cyber threats pose a "quiet, stealthy, insidious" danger to nations around the world and could lead to outcomes from "taking down power grids to destroying financial systems or neutralising defence networks".