NCSC averts record number of UK cybersecurity incidents

The NCSC’s 2021 Annual Review emphasises the work undertaken by the organisation to safeguard the UK from cybersecurity incidents over the last year.

According to the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) annual review, the organisation has prevented a record number of cybersecurity incidents in the past 12 months. This includes unparalleled support given to groups on the front line of the pandemic response and vaccine rollout.

Protecting the health sector

The NCSC, which is a part of GCHQ, extended its defence of the UK by handling an unprecedented 777 cybersecurity incidents in the last year, which has increased from 723 incidents the previous year. Of these incidents, 20% of organisations supported were linked to the health sector and vaccines.

The increase in the number of incidents managed by the NCSC this year is partly reflected in the organisation’s continuing work to proactively distinguish threats through the work of its Threat Operations and Assessment teams.

The health sector, and specifically the vaccine rollout, was a core focus for the NCSC, with the organisation’s world-leading services protecting NHS, healthcare, and vaccine supplier IT systems from malicious domains billions of times.

In the last year, the NCSC also reacted to an increase in ransomware attacks, and a range of services have been supplied to businesses to help defend them from ransomware. These include the Early Warning Service alerting organisations to emerging threats and cybersecurity advice for those working in education.

These efforts have occurred in the context of responding to substantial global incidents, such as the attack on the SolarWinds IT management platform by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, as well as a massive ransomware attack on the American software firm Kaseya.

NCSC rises to the challenge

Lindy Cameron, CEO of the NCSC, said: “I’m proud of the way the NCSC has responded to what has been another hugely challenging year for the country as we all continue to navigate our way through the pandemic.

“The support and expertise we have provided for stakeholders from government all the way through to the general public during the pandemic has been vital to keeping the country safe online.

“Undoubtedly, there are challenges ahead, but the upcoming National Cyber Strategy combined with the continued engagement from businesses, and the public provides a solid foundation for us to continue reducing the impact of online threats.”

Preventing cybersecurity incidents

Jeremy Fleming, Director of GCHQ, added: “This year, we have seen countless examples of cybersecurity threats: from state-sponsored activity to criminal ransomware attacks. It all serves to remind us that what happens online doesn’t stay online – there are real consequences of virtual activity.

“In the face of rising cyber-attacks and an evolving threat, this year’s NCSC’s Annual Review shows that world-class cyber security, enabled by the expertise of the NCSC as part of GCHQ, continues to be vital to the UK’s safety and prosperity.”

Protecting the UK public

Steve Barclay, The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, concluded: “The National Cyber Security Centre’s Annual Review illustrates the incredible effort of our security service in keeping the public safe over the last year, foiling more cyber-attacks than ever before. It also makes clear that cybercrime is taking place on an unprecedented scale, with criminals seeking to take advantage of people as they move more of their lives online as a result of the pandemic.

“The Government and its agencies will continue to throw every resource at its disposal to stamp out cybercrime and take down cybercriminals, but there are things that we can all do to keep us and those in our communities safe. We want to make sure that everyone knows how to avoid threats online, spot scams and where to report wrongdoing.”

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