NCSC defends UK from record number of cyber attacks

The National Cyber Security Centre's fourth Annual Review reveals its ongoing work against cyber attacks and support for the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NCSC has published its fourth Annual Report

The National Cyber Security Centre defended the UK against a record number of cyber security incidents over the last year, according to its annual review.

The NCSC, which is a part of GCHQ, handled an average of 60 attacks per month during a year which saw its resources proactively focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency handled 723 serious incidents between last September and the end of August - a 20% increase on the 602 it handled the year before.

More than 200 of this year's incidents were related to coronavirus. Earlier this year the NCSC warned that bogus emails posing as communications from health authorities were being sent with links claiming to provide important updates, which when clicked instead lead to devices being infected with malware.

The growth in incidents handled by the NCSC reflects its ongoing efforts to proactively identify and mitigate threats, tips the organisation receives from its extensive network of partners and reports from victims themselves.

In a year heavily influenced by the pandemic, the review highlights the NCSC’s support for the healthcare sector, such as scanning more than 1 million NHS IP addresses for vulnerabilities leading to the detection of 51,000 indicators of compromise, and working with international allies to raise awareness of the threat of vaccine research targeting.

With cyber criminals looking to exploit public fear over the pandemic with coronavirus-related online scams, the NCSC and the City of London Police also launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service, which received 2.3 million reports from the public in its first four months – resulting in thousands of malicious websites being taken down.

The NCSC also provided the technical assurances during the creation of the Virtual Parliament, as well as producing a wide range of advice for businesses and individuals switching to home working as a result of the pandemic.

A new remote working scenario was added to the NCSC’s ‘Exercise in a Box’ programme. The initiative, which allows people to test their cyber defences against realistic scenarios was used by people in 125 countries this year.