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New Security Centre Could Boost UK’s Cyber Defences

14th February 2017

Recently there has been much concern around UK’s cyber defence in light of an increase in state-sponsored hacks, an issue which has fast become a major talking point amongst security experts. International relations are in a turbulent state and MPs are not confident that the government is doing enough to protect the UK from facing the 60 serious cyber-attacks per month claimed by GCHQ. However, this looks set to change.


A new centre to protect the UK against cyber-attacks was officially opened today by the Queen. Based in London, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is part of intelligence agency GCHQ and its main objective is to make to the UK the hardest target according to Ciaran Martin, the centre’s chief executive. "We have had significant losses of personal data, significant intrusions by hostile state actors, significant reconnaissance against critical national infrastructure - and our job is to make sure we deal with it in the most effective way possible," Mr Martin says.
 
According to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, there previously had been an issue consolidating the “alphabet soup” of agencies tasked with stopping attacks. The committee of MPs found that the Cabinet Office’s approach to dealing with personal data breaches was “chaotic” and did not inspire confidence that they could handle larger national attacks.
 
Even though cyber-attacks are ranked as the top four risks to UK national security, there is currently a skills shortage to handle such attacks. Late last year Chancellor Philip Green confirmed that hostile “foreign actors” were developing techniques that threatened the country’s electrical grid and airports.
 
High-profile arrests of two intelligence officials and a cyber security expert have been linked to a treason case according to Russian news media. Many conspiracies and theories have sprung up linking the case to the alleged Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential election. No official statement has been given by Russian government officials, although it does seem very suspicious at this stage.
 
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said in a recent speech that Russia was carrying out a sustained campaign of cyber-attacks specifically targeting democracy and critical infrastructure in the West. Fallon believes Moscow was using “weaponised misinformation” to destabilise Western governments and weaken NATO.
 
We have indeed entered uncertain times where state-sponsored cyber-attacks pose a threat to the country’s digital infrastructure. It is now more important than ever to have a strong infrastructure security team to defend against external hackers. Will NCSC be up to the task? Only time will tell…
 

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