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and our own ‘Secure by Design’ principle.” Te NCSC is a branch of the


UK’s famous ‘listening post’, GCHQ; according to the organisa- tion’s third annual report crimi- nals are developing ever-more sophisticated means of cyber at- tack such as using bogus solicitors’ firms and impersonating legiti- mate companies. It also helped UK airlines targeted by Chafer, a hacking group which security agencies linked to Iran, which has a history of targeting global or- ganisations for bulk data sets. And it has helped prevent hundreds of thousands of credit card fraud attempts in the past year.


Over the period of the Review the NCSC has dealt with 658 incidents, which brings the total number to almost 1,800 since the Centre’s formation in 2016. A significant number of incidents continue to come from hostile na- tion states, the report said. Minister for the Cabinet Office


Oliver Dowden said: “We’ve made great progress on making the UK safer since launching our world- leading £1.9 billion cyber security strategy in 2015. Establishing the NCSC was a key part of this and has played a central role in tackling online threats posed by criminals, hacktivists and hostile nation states. “As the Cabinet Office Minister


responsible for resilience against cyber attacks and protecting our critical national infrastructure, I very much welcome the achieve- ments laid out in this Annual Review which shows that we are


Ciaran Martin, Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), speaking at CYBER UK in Glasgow


cyber attacks from ever happening. ACD features a number of pio-


neering programmes, such as the Takedown Service, which finds malicious sites and sends noti- fications to the host to get them removed. Tanks to this service, 98% of phishing URLs discovered to be malicious were taken down, a total of 177, 335 phishing URLs. Of those, 62.4% were removed in the first hour.


“Tis Review gives a real insight into the breadth of outstanding work done by the NCSC and underlines why we are a world leader in cyber security” Ciaran Martin, NCSC Chief Executive


making the UK a more challeng- ing place for our cyber adversar- ies to operate in.”


NCSC Chief Executive Ciaran Martin said: “Tis Review gives a real insight into the breadth of outstanding work done by the NCSC and underlines why we are a world leader in cyber security. “From handling more than 600


incidents – many from hostile na- tion states – to equipping the pub- lic with the tools they need to stay safe online, we are employing our expertise on a number of fronts. “I am proud to lead this or-


ganisation and optimistic that, in a constantly evolving landscape,


Cyber agency impacts


In the most wide-ranging Review yet produced by the NCSC, which is a part of GCHQ, significant disclosures include: l The pioneering Operation Haulster, which automatically flagged fraudulent intention against more than one million stolen credit cards, as a result protecting hundreds of thousands of people from financial loss; l A machine to improve the


efficiency of information sharing around threats to the UK – speeding up the process from a matter of hours to just seconds; A breakdown for the first time of the sectors which are given the most support from the NCSC’s Incident Management team,with Government heading the list, fol- lowed by academia, IT, managed service providers and – in joint fifth – health and transport.


Among the key statistics from the past year, the Review shows the NCSC: l Handled 658 incidents, with support provided to almost 900 victim organisations; l Produced 154 threat assessments for a range of sectors; l Delivered, along with sector and law enforcement partners, cyber security awareness and


training sessions to more than 2,700 charities; l Welcomed visiting delegations from 56 countries; l Enabled 2,886 small businesses across the UK to do simulated cyber exercising for themselves; l Challenged 11,802 girls in the 2019 CyberFirst Girls Competition.


FUTURESCOT | SPRING 2020 | 29


we can help make this the safest country to live and work online.” Elsewhere in the Review, the


key role the NCSC plays in pro- tecting the democratic process is highlighted. Te organisation meets with UK political parties every three months and regu- larly gives cyber security advice to Parliamentarians, and during this year’s local and European elections provided parties with guidance on risks and advice on protecting people and systems. Te success of the Active Cyber


Defence (ACD) Programme is also highlighted. ACD is the NCSC’s world-leading, bold, intervention- ist approach that stops millions of


There are also examples in the Review of how the NCSC is helping defend individuals and families from the cyber threat, including via Operation Haulster. As a result of this operation,


fraudulent intention against more than a million credit cards was automatically flagged to banks, in the majority of cases before a crime had taken place. Tis means hundreds of thousands of people were protected before they lost a penny. Te Review underlines the


NCSC’s commitment to sharing as much threat information as pos- sible in real time, in the form of the new Indicator of Compromise (IoC) machine. Previously it has taken several


hours for officials to be able to share information relating to threats to the UK, but the IoC machine can identify what can be shared in a matter of seconds – though the final decision still lies with a person. l


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