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UK government saw 600 cyber attacks in the last year alone

The UK has been the subject of over 600 cyber attacks in the last year alone according to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which says it has thwarted the attempts.

Since the Centre’s formation in 2016, it has had to deal with almost 1,800 incidents in total, a significant number of which emanate from “hostile nation states” it said.

In its third annual review, the NCSC singled out some of the actions it has taken to improve cyber security in the UK.

It noted the success of Operation Haulster, which automatically flagged fraudulent intention against more than one million stolen credit cards protecting hundreds of thousands of people from financial loss.

It also developed 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.

The sector receiving the most support from the NCSC’s Incident Management team was, predictably, the government, followed by academia, IT, managed service providers and in joint fifth health and transport.

Ciaran Martin, the centre’s chief executive, praised the successful operations but said “there is of course much work to do”, adding: “A significant proportion of our work has continued to take the form of defending against hostile state actors.

“We can say that Russia, China, Iran and North Korea continue to pose strategic national security threats to the UK, but we can’t often talk about the operational successes.

“The most immediate threats to UK citizens and businesses come from large-scale global cyber crime.

“Despite often being low in sophistication, these attacks threaten our social fabric, our way of life and our economic prosperity.”

The NCSC said it will be offering technology to all hospital trusts in England to “defend against future attacks”.

The WannaCry ransomware attack of 2017 caused disruption in a third of all hospital trusts across England, leading to cancelled operations and appointments for many patients.

“The incident brought to light a number of weaknesses in the cyber defences of the NHS,” the NCSC said.

“For this reason, the NCSC has been working with NHS Digital, the national information and technology partner for the health service in England, on the procurement of a new perimeter security solution for the NHS.”

All hospital trusts in England will be offered the free secure boundary solution, which includes next-generation firewalls and the NCSC’s protective domain name system (PDNS) service.

“This will help NHS organisations to defend against future attacks, including ransomware, and enable them to keep providing care for patients.

“Another benefit of the new system is that it will be possible to spot when a cyber attack is attempted on a particular hospital trust.”

The centre, which is part of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), was set up as part of a £1.9bn cyber-security strategy.

Oliver Dowden, Cabinet Office minister responsible for the country’s cyber-security strategy, said the report showed the success of efforts to make the “the UK a more challenging place for our cyber adversaries to operate in”.

He added: “Any digital economy must be alert to new threats, and to changes in existing threats.

“The NCSC operates in a complex landscape in which the contours are constantly changing and there is no room for complacency.”

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