More than 1,000 cyber attacks have been launched against computer systems in the UK over the past year – with over half of them being described as “significant” – but even this is “just the tip of the iceberg” one expert claims.
According to National Cyber Security Centre figures 1,131 IT threats have been registered since October 2016. Of those, 590 were classed as “significant” with 30 serious enough to trigger a cross-government response.
Victims include national institutions like the NHS, along with large and small businesses.
In May, the WannaCry attack hit businesses and institutions on a global scale, including the NHS, Telephonica and FedEx. Within weeks, the “NotPetya” attack took down WPP, TNT Express, Reckitt Benkiser Mondelez International, Maersk and number of Ukrainian firms.
NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin described the cyber threat as “large, growing and diverse” and warned further attacks are inevitable.
He said: “Cyber security is crucial to our national security and to our prosperity. We’re incredibly proud of what we have achieved in our first year at the National Cyber Security Centre, bringing together some of the best cyber-security brains in the country in a single place.
“But the threat remains very real and growing – further attacks will happen and there is much more for us to do to make the UK the safest place in the world to live and do business online.”
The NCSC, which is part of intelligence agency GCHQ, was founded in October 2016 to counter the threat from cyber-criminals and hostile nations.
However, Mishcon de Reya cyber security lead Joe Hancock said: “One thousand attacks may seem like a large number but the reality is that these are the tip of the iceberg. The majority of attacks on business, government and third sector organisations go unreported and often undetected. Behind these high-profile incidents, there are the millions of online crimes that affect individuals every day.
“It is clear that more needs to be done to support law enforcement in supporting both victims and responders to detect and recover from them better.
“The recent Equifax breach shows the potential downsides of large scale data collection where there is little consent. The level of cyber security is not globally consistent and we are always only as strong as the weakest link.
“The NCSC is a critical part of the UK’s strategy to become one of the safest places to be online. We are keen to see this strategy broadened with further investment.”
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