NCSC reveals annual cyber attack figures

The UK National Cyber Security Centre dealt with over 600 cyber incidents in the past year, a significant number of which were said to emanate from hostile nation states, continuing the pattern observed since the formation of the centre in 2016. Around 900 organisations were targeted during this time.

This is according to the NCSC’s third Annual Review, which it said was the most wide-ranging yet from the GCHQ-led division. Work undertaken in the last 12 months included the roll out of the Operation Haulster anti-fraud system; and the development of a system for improving the efficiency of information sharing around threats to the UK – speeding up the process from hours to seconds.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Oliver Dowden hailed a year of “great progress” for the £1.9bn cyber security strategy, since its 2015 launch.

“Establishing the NCSC was a key part of this and has played a central role in tackling online threats posed by criminals, hacktivists and hostile nation states,” he said. “As the Cabinet Office Minister responsible for resilience against cyber attacks and protecting our critical national infrastructure, I very much welcome the achievements laid out in this Annual Review which shows that we are making the UK a more challenging place for our cyber adversaries to operate in."

Chief executive at the NCSC, Ciaran Martin added: “This review gives a real insight into the breadth of outstanding work done by the NCSC and underlines why we are a world leader in cyber security.

“From handling more than 600 incidents – many from hostile nation states – to equipping the public with the tools they need to stay safe online, we are employing our expertise on a number of fronts.

“I am proud to lead this organisation and optimistic that, in a constantly evolving landscape, we can help make this the safest country to live and work online.”

The agency also hailed the success of its Active Cyber Defence programme, an interventionist approach that stops millions of cyber attacks from happening in the first instance. ACD features a number of programmes, such as the Takedown Service, which finds malicious sites and sends notifications to the host to get them removed. Thanks to this service, 98% of phishing URLs discovered to be malicious were taken down, a total of 177,335 phishing URLs. Of those, 62.4% were removed in the first hour.

The NCSC’s Incident Management team provided the most support over the period to government agencies, academia, IT, managed service providers and the health and transport sectors.

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