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NCSC defended the UK from more than 700 cyber attacks in the last year – report

By Martyn Landi
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) defended the UK from more than 700 cyber attacks over the last year, the organisation’s annual review has revealed.

The cyber security agency said it had handled 723 cyber incidents between September 2019 and the end of August this year, including 194 directly linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centre’s report revealed it had scanned more than one million IP addresses linked to the NHS for vulnerabilities as part of efforts to protect the health service, which the NCSC announced earlier this year had been part of wider attacks by cybercriminals on institutions working on Covid-19 vaccine research.

It also noted a rise in the number of ransomware attacks being deployed – where attackers lock access to data until a ransom is paid.

The NCSC said it dealt with more than three times as many ransomware incidents compared to last year and noted that criminals were changing their approach during such attacks to increasingly threaten to leak information publicly unless payment is made.

Elsewhere, the NCSC’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service, launched this year with the City of London Police, has now received more than 2.3 million reports from the public, resulting in thousands of malicious websites being taken down.

Lindy Cameron, the new chief executive of the NCSC, said: “This review outlines the breadth of remarkable work delivered by the NCSC in the past year, largely against a backdrop of the shared global crisis of coronavirus.

“From handling hundreds of incidents to protecting our democratic institutions and keeping people safe while working remotely, our expertise has delivered across multiple frontiers.”

According to the report, 51,000 indicators of compromise from within NHS IP addresses were shared with the health service to help boost its protection. Active Cyber Defence (ACD) services were rolled out to 235 health bodies, including NHS Trusts.

Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ, said the NCSC’s work had been vital in stopping those who were looking to exploit the pandemic.

“The world changed in 2020 and so did the balance of threats we are seeing.

“As this Review shows, the expertise of the NCSC, as part of GCHQ, has been invaluable in keeping the country safe: enabling us to defend our democracy, counter high levels of malicious state and criminal activity and protect against those who have tried to exploit the pandemic.

“The years ahead are likely to be just as challenging but I am confident that in the NCSC we have developed the capabilities, relationships and approaches to keep the UK at the forefront of global cyber security.”

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