NCSC Report: Threat Actors From Overseas Pose The Bigger Risk for UK

  • In 2018-19, NCSC managed 658 cyber incidents while providing support to almost 900 victim organizations.
  • Most of the reported attacks targeted government, universities, information technology, health care, and transport sectors.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) of U.K. recently released its annual review report stating that it neutralized over 600 cyber-attacks in the period between September 1, 2018, to August 31, 2019. Most of the attacks were reportedly launched by threat actors from overseas.

Report Highlights

“A significant number of incidents continue to come from hostile nation-states,” said Ciaran Martin, the CEO of NCSC. The report also warns that Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea continue to pose strategic national security threats to the UK.

  • NCSC managed to take down 658 cyber incidents while providing support to almost 900 victim organizations and handling almost 1,800 incidents since commencing operations.
  • As per the report, overseas hackers, many of which are nation-state actors, primarily targeted universities, information technology, health care, and transport sectors.
  • The UK NCSC also alerted 56 banks about adversaries’ intent to use cloned cards to steal funds from their customers.
  • The habit of setting weak passwords continues to expose organizations to the risk of hacking.

“Most recently, the NCSC alerted 56 banks to a specific ATM cash-out threat after receiving actionable information. As a result, the banks were able to block any attempt by the attackers to fraudulently withdraw money from customer accounts,” the report stated.

Active Cyber Defence program

It is a cooperative approach of the NCSC to help safeguard internet users and organizations against attackers. It includes programs such as Web Check, Protective DNS, Takedown Services, and Mail Check.

  • The UK's share of visible global phishing attacks reduced to 2.1% as of August 2019.
  • Of the total 177,335 phishing URLs identified, 98 percent were found to be malicious, and were successfully taken down. Over 60 percent of these were removed within 24 hours of being determined malicious.
  • Urgent findings resolved through Web Check doubled to a level of approximately 500 per month. These are resolved by the users themselves when they receive a notification for potential threats.
  • Now, more than 460 organizations use the Protective DNS service that blocks around 20,000 unique domains at a rate of 6.5 million times hits per month.

The NCSC also works in tandem with many public sector bodies and advises the members of Parliament regarding security of UK's critical infrastructure. Through programs such as Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR), CyberInvest, PhD scholarships, and more, NCSC has partnered with industry and academic organizations as well.

Comment from NCSC Chief

“From handling more than 600 incidents – many from hostile nation-states – to equipping the public with the tools they need to stay safe online, we are employing our expertise on a number of fronts,” Martin noted. “I am proud to lead this organization and optimistic that, in a constantly evolving landscape, we can help make this the safest country to live and work online.”

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