UK’s new cybersecurity HQ opens doors in London

3 Oct 2016

National Cyber Security Centre authorities in London will report to the director of GCHQ. Image: Iakov Kalinin/Shutterstock

Never one to shy away from cyber warfare, the UK is upping its efforts in the online battleground, with the creation of a new National Cyber Security Centre in London.

Operating out of Victoria in England’s capital, the UK’s shiny new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will be the brain room to build and operate a defence network for cyberattacks.

Essentially, the public face of the shadow-dwelling national surveillance body, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), will from now on funnel its broad, online advice through NCSC.

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Cybersecurity: National Cyber Security Centre

Not all defensive, NCSC will also be able to use offensive online tools, as developed by GCHQ and, presumably, international partners. Indeed, the NCSC authorities will report to the director of GCHQ.

When announcing its creation last year, George Osborne, the UK’s chancellor of the exchequer, said NCSC “will give us a unified platform to handle incidents as they arise, ensuring a faster and more effective response to major attacks”.

NCSC will provide “bespoke” ongoing support to a small number of “the most critical organisations in the UK”, ones it determines must function correctly as part of the UK’s “wider national security and resilience”.

According to The Evening Standard, NCSC will have four key tasks:

  • Respond to cyberattacks to limit their damage, help with recovery and learn lessons to reduce the risks of recurrence. For very serious incidents, messages may have to be issued on how the public can protect themselves.
  • Cut risks to the UK by working with public and private sector organisations to beef up their cybersecurity.
  • Understand the cybersecurity environment, share knowledge and use that expertise to identify and address systemic vulnerabilities.
  • Build Britain’s cybersecurity capability and provide leadership on critical issues, by identifying threats and technology trends.

It will be run by Ciaran Martin, formerly director-general of cybersecurity at GCHQ, who said: “Our role is helping to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online. So we’ll tackle the major threats from hostile states and criminal gangs.

“But we’ll also work tirelessly to protect people automatically from those smaller scale and deeply damaging attacks.”

Last week, Europol said cybercrime is such a problem that it’s surpassing traditional crime figures across Europe.

Saying the rise in incidents is “relentless”, Europol’s latest findings showed all aspects of cybercrime on an upward curve, having been so for some time.

Called the 2016 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment, Europol’s new report highlighted an “expanding cyber-criminal economy” that is entrenched in an increasingly internet-reliant age.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic