Just months after Britain experienced significant cyber attacks, the director of intelligence monitoring service GCHQ has stated that keeping ‘digital homeland’ safe from cyber-attacks is as important as fighting terrorism.
Ex-deputy director of MI5 and GCHQ director, Jeremy Fleming, further said that increased funding for GCHQ was now being used on making it a “cyber-organisation” as it works with fellow intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6, the police and armed forces.
Just a year ago, the government had launched the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), an offshoot from GCHQ, to protect the UK’s online life. So far, NCSC has registered 1,131 incidents in the past year alone and responded to around 600 “significant” cyber attacks.
Talking about this to the Daily Telegraph, Fleming said: “We see that in the way terrorists are constantly changing their weapons, or states are using their full range of tools to steal secrets, gain influence and attack our economy.”
It was not until the NCSC was set up last year, GCHQ’s work on cyber-security “too often felt like the poor relation”, he added.
The NCSC now works with private firms, schools and universities as well as the media, as part of its cyber-security role.
In May this year, NHS services across England and Scotland were hit by WannaCry ransomware which disrupted hospital and GP appointments. It was followed by another wave of attack in June, when up to 90 email accounts were compromised during a cyber attack on the Parliament.