26.09.2021

Cyber attack protection important as fighting terrorism

Protecting the UK from cyber attacks is just as important as fighting terrorism, the director of intelligence agency GCHQ has said.

Writing in the Telegraph, Jeremy Fleming said the speed of technological advances, including the internet, means the UK’s enemies are constantly finding new ways of threatening the nation’s security.

The ex-deputy director of MI5 said Government investment is being used to ensure GCHQ is ‘a cyber organisation as well as an intelligence and counter-terrorism one’.

 

Protecting the UK from cyber attacks is just as important as fighting terrorism, the director of intelligence agency GCHQ has said. Pictured is GCHQ in Cheltenham

Protecting the UK from cyber attacks is just as important as fighting terrorism, the director of intelligence agency GCHQ has said. Pictured is GCHQ in Cheltenham

THE NCSC 

Last year, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was set up within GCHQ.

It established to spearhead efforts to counter the mounting danger from cyber-criminals and hostile states.

In a report published last Tuesday, experts at the NCSC revealed that Britain is being hit by nearly two ‘significant’ cyber-attacks every day. 

In the report, the centre set out its activity in its first year and summarised the shape of the current threat.

It said: ‘There are now more devices connected to the internet than there are people in the world and with the growth of our dependence on technology comes an increased risk.

‘Despite the NCSC’s best work in defending the country from that threat, we can’t prevent every attack.’

He wrote: ‘If GCHQ is to continue to help keep the country safe, then protecting the digital homeland – keeping our citizens safe and free online – must become and remain as much part of our mission as our global intelligence reach and our round-the-clock efforts against terrorism.’

Last year, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was set up within GCHQ.

It established to spearhead efforts to counter the mounting danger from cyber-criminals and hostile states. 

Mr Fleming said the centre had responded to nearly 600 ‘significant’ cyber attacks which required a national response.

Among them were the WannaCry or Wanna Decryptor ransomware, which downed systems across the globe including the NHS in May.

A separate attack, this one on Parliament in June, compromised up to 90 email accounts.

Mr Fleming, who became director of GCHQ in March, said the NCSC now has a ‘world-leading programme to reduce the incidence and impact of cyber-attacks without users even noticing’.

He added that despite GCHQ’s need for secrecy, the centre was working closely with schools, universities and private firms, as well as the media, as part of its vital role.

This is not the first time this month that security chiefs have warned of the growing danger of cyber attacks in the UK.

Writing in the Telegraph , Jeremy Fleming said the speed of technological advances, including the internet, means the UK's enemies are constantly finding new ways of threatening the nation's security (stock image)

Writing in the Telegraph , Jeremy Fleming said the speed of technological advances, including the internet, means the UK’s enemies are constantly finding new ways of threatening the nation’s security (stock image)

Last week, experts at the NCSC revealed that Britain is being hit by nearly two ‘significant’ cyber-attacks every day. 

Jeremy Fleming has said Government investment is being used to ensure GCHQ is 'a cyber organisation'

Jeremy Fleming has said Government investment is being used to ensure GCHQ is ‘a cyber organisation’

In a report published last Tuesday, the centre set out its activity in its first year and summarised the shape of the current threat.

It said: ‘There are now more devices connected to the internet than there are people in the world and with the growth of our dependence on technology comes an increased risk.

‘Despite the NCSC’s best work in defending the country from that threat, we can’t prevent every attack.’

The assessment underlines how threats can originate from a range of sources, including cyber criminals or nation states that ‘may seek to exploit UK organisations to further their own agenda and prosperity’.

It warns: ‘Campaigns by nation states can be persistent, including espionage and intellectual property theft that take place over many years and use significant technical capability.

‘Nation states are also starting to explore how cyber operations can support a disruptive and destructive strategy.’

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