UK hit by more than 30 cyberattacks requiring ‘a cross-government response’ in the last year

National Cyber Security Centre marks first 12 months in existence by publishing report into threat landscape

In the last 12 months, the UK has been hit by more than 30 cyberattacks that were so serious as to “require a cross-government response”.

A subsidiary of GCHQ, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was launched a year ago and, to mark its first 12 months in existence, has released a report detailing the threat landscape it has faced so far, and the work it has done to date. Since October 2016, the centre has received 1,191 cyber incident reports, of which 590 were “classed as significant”.

In excess of 30 of these saw the NCSC leading the government in orchestrating a national response.

“We are learning more from every incident, and our first year has taught us there are benefits to working even more closely with law-enforcement agencies,” the centre said. “Much progress has already been made, supported by National Crime Agency officers embedded within our incident-management team, and we continue to work ever more closely together.”

Three months ago, NCSC launched a number of services designed to help the public sector stay safe online. According to the centre, its strategy for blocking fake emails has already helped prevent 79,567 attacks, and reduced the average amount of time a phishing site is active from 27 hours to just one hour. Meanwhile, its Domain Name Service for logging dangerous sites resulted in 20,410 domains being blocked in August, the NCSC said.

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The UK Key Production Authority – which is part of the NCSC – has created about 200,000 physical security devices in the past year. These were deployed to ensure the security of communications within the Armed Forces and members of the “national security community”, the centre said.

It added: “We provide robust levels of security to essential defence projects, allowing modern military platforms to operate effectively in the environments they work in. Our deep expertise in cryptography and security, and world-leading knowledge and experience allows us to support the operations of the UK’s Armed Forces.”

The NCSC said that one of the important ways in which it differs from similar organisations that preceded it is the remit to function not just in the service of central government, but also to help the wider public sector and commercial enterprises. 

To which end it recently held a Digital Government Loft event in London, which enabled local-government, health, and emergency-services professionals to avail themselves of advice from the centre’s cybersecurity experts. Similar events are now planned for Scotland, and Shipley, in West Yorkshire.

NCSC has also set up a dedicated team, dubbed Economy and Society, to focus on the education and voluntary sectors, as well as the UK’s SME community – for whom it is developing its Cyber Security Small Business Guide.

“Many companies have told us that the first step for cybersecurity is the hardest,” the centre said. 


Sam Trendall

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