UK has become a significant target for cyber attacks with at least two significant attacks per day
Security chiefs reveal Westminster was a prime target for cyber attacks with 590 cases last year. Experts at the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) had to deal with 1,131 incidents in the last year.Officials classed 590 of the reported incidents as significant, with more than 30 assessed as serious enough to require a cross-government response.
Key national institutions such as the NHS and the UK and Scottish Parliaments were among those targeted, a report by the NCSC revealed. Small and large businesses were also hit by cyber attacks.
The NCSC is part of Britain’s eavesdropping service, GCHQ, whose director Jeremy Fleming warned the threats to the UK are ‘evolving rapidly’.
The body was created in October last year, bringing together previously separate parts of government, MI5 and GCHQ. Its aim is to support and advise the public and private sectors on how to avoid computer security threats.
Over that time the body said it has also managed to reduce the time phishing sites are hosted for in the UK from 27 hours to less than an hour.
Other measures introduced include getting government departments to adopt the Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance protocol (DMARC) to combat fake emails by validating whether the communications come from the said organization.
NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin described the cyber threat as “large, growing and diverse” – and warned further attacks are inevitable. He said: ‘The threats to the UK are evolving rapidly as technology advances. Our response has been to transform to stay ahead of them. ‘The NCSC is a pivotal part of that transformation.
‘It is a critical component not only of GCHQ, where it benefits from the data and expertise it has access to as part of the intelligence community, but of how the government as a whole works to keep the UK safe.’
He said the NCSC had made ‘enormous strides’ in increasing and improving UK cyber capabilities.
Undoubtedly WannaCry was the biggest threat the unit responded to over the last 12 months. The outbreak led to “the first ministerial COBRA meeting following a cyber attack,” said the report.
WannaCry affected more than 100 countries, including Spanish telecoms and German rail networks. In total, 47 NHS trusts were affected in the UK. More than 230,000 computers were hit globally. NHS has become a favorite target for cyber attacks.
Ciaran Martin, CEO of the NCSC, said: “The UK faces threats from across the globe on a daily basis and while we have brought together unprecedented expertise to defend the UK, it’s not a question of ‘if’ cyber attacks will happen, it’s a matter of when.
“The NCSC’s first duty is to manage and mitigate against attacks. Our anniversary report shows the progress we have made working with government, industry and individuals to create a truly lasting national asset.