The NCSC – part of intelligence agency GCHQ – says the UK is facing about 60 serious cyber-attacks a month.
There were 188 attacks classed by the NCSC as Category Two or Three during the last three months.
And even though the UK has not experienced a Category One attack – the highest level, an example of which would have been the theft of confidential details of millions of Americans from the Office of Personnel Management – there is no air of complacency at the NCSC’s new headquarters in Victoria.
“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.
The UK is one of the most digitally dependent economies, with the digital sector estimated to be worth over £118bn per year – which means the country has much to lose.
It is not just a crippling cyber-attack on infrastructure that could turn out the lights which worries officials, but also a loss of confidence in the digital economy from consumers and businesses, as a result of criminals exploiting online vulnerabilities.
Russia has been the focus of recent concern, following claims it used cyber-attacks to interfere with the recent US presidential election.
“I think there has been a significant change in the Russian approach to cyber-attacks and the willingness to carry it out, and clearly that’s something we need to be prepared to deal with,” Mr Martin said.
French and German officials have warned of the possibility of interference in their upcoming elections, but the NCSC’s head said there was no evidence that a significant attack or compromise had yet taken place against the UK democratic process.
“There has been an identifiable trend in Russian attacks in the West, in terms of focusing on critical national industries and political and democratic processes,” Mr Martin added.Share