CYBER Continued from Page 39

to remove malicious content from the web, web check, the DMARC mail check service and the protective domain name service (PDNS). He says: “We recognised that

there are structural problems with the internet which people aren’t incentivised to fix; so, we thought how are we going to do this? But the fact that the UK share of phishing actually went down from 5.5 to 2 per cent over the next three years is testament to its success. NetCraft [the phish- ing service operator on behalf of NCSC] automated requests to website hosts to take down dodgy websites, and that was really clever, yet really simple.”

NCSC went about its work by helping to rationalise the vast digital footprint of government, removing outdated websites from the cluttered IT landscape. It was, in fact, a so-called ‘dormant do- main’ that had led to the TalkTalk attack. “We helped clean all that up in government,” says Martin. Under Martin’s leadership,

NCSC helped Britain’s public bod- ies take a lead on cybersecurity, and adoption of certain ACD tools has been universal in local govern- ment in Scotland. According to its annual review 2019, the web check service was in use by all 32 local authorities in Scotland, a 100% coverage rate compared with 97.75% across the UK as a whole. As for what Scotland should

focus on as it updates its national cyber action plans – a process currently underway – Martin says: “It’s not for me to lecture the Scottish Government, and Scot- land has many things going for it in cybersecurity. Take-up of the automatic protections available through the NCSC was very high when I left, and I expect they still are. And I include in Scotland’s advantages the way in which central government, local govern- ment, the emergency services and business come together and that’s why I like supporting really excel- lent organisations like the SBRC. “If asked, I’d say the top three

priorities would be the resilience of critical services, incident prep-

40 | FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21

“I think the pandemic would have been far worse if technology hadn’t stepped up” Ciaran Martin

Improving security is the opportunity of the 2020s

aration – I’m pleased they’re tak- ing Exercise in a Box [an online tool which helps organisations test their cyber attack responses] so seriously – and making it easy for small organisations and indi- viduals to do good cyber security easily.” He adds that Scotland is “actually pretty good at joining up cyber defence” but cautions: “Information sharing is useful, but we can rely on it too much: it’s not a silver bullet.”

Covid-19 is inescapable when it comes to cyber, such has been the rise in cyber incidents in 2020 compared to the previous year. Martin is keen to talk about the subject, as it is deeply entwined with his interest in public trust in technology, which he describes overall as “okay, but a bit wobbly”. “When it comes to public trust in technology, the lesson of 2020

is that technology is now es- sentially a public good,” he says. “I think the pandemic would have been far worse if technology hadn’t stepped up; the technol- ogy industry should be proud of its performance, as it faced a mas- sive increase in demand, which it met.” He cites among the many heroes of the pandemic the BT and Vodafone engineers who kept people’s internet services run- ning, for which he was pleased they received recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Migrating huge numbers of

people to online working was also evidence of technology ‘passing its test’, and Martin praises the SBRC again for assisting busi- nesses in Scotland make that transition. “SBRC did some good work with NCSC on these huge migrations to online working, which is highly risky; it was a

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