London, Victoria: 15:15
Her Majesty The Queen has today opened the operational nerve centre known as the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to manage cyber incidents.
Royals and cabinet members were given a guided tour of the new building in London’s Victoria and shown live demonstrations of cyber security technology, past and present.
The NCSC - part of the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ - started work in October as part of a £1.9bn five-year strategy. An estimated 350 staff at the Nova development in Victoria will be joined by experts on secondment from the private sector to help identify threats. In the past, UK cyber protection was largely situated within GCHQ in Cheltenham at the facility known as ‘The Doughnut’. However, GCHQ was criticised by businesses and others as overly secretive. The NCSC is aiming to be much more public facing and accessible.
The NCSC will draw on GCHQ's world-class cyber skills
Designed and operated from the outset as a kind of ‘Cyber Central’, the NCSC will marry together several Government cyber initiatives (appropriate for Valentine's Day?) and is the UK’s all-embracing authority on cyber security. It is publicly described as ‘Part of GCHQ’ in its logo and will bring together CESG – the Information Security arm of GCHQ – the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, CERT-UK, and the Centre for Cyber Assessment, to form one organisation that will simplify the current cyber security landscape.
GCHQ is the responsibility of the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, but it is not a part of the Foreign Office and its Director ranks as a Permanent Secretary. GCHQ will be the parent body for the NCSC, meaning it can draw on the intelligence agency's skills and capabilities.
The object though is to protect a far wider range of sectors, rather than just government and national security-related industries, like defence. Along with its role of protecting against and responding to high-end attacks on government and business, the NCSC also aims to protect the economy and wider society.
Digitally-dependent economies need cyber security experts
As the BBC reported today, “The UK is one of the most digitally dependent economies, with the digital sector estimated to be worth over £118bn per year - which means the country has much to lose... " [Source: Cybersecurity: Queen opens centre to protect against attacks, BBC News].
Put another way, there is a significant risk that consumers and businesses will lose confidence in the emerging digital economy as a result of criminals exploiting online vulnerabilities. With digital strategies central to the Government's Brexit agenda, the value of our cyber defences in the UK's economic future should not be underestimated.
At the launch, NCSC Chief Executive Officer Ciaran Martin delivered a speech that outlined how the organisation aims to reduce the cyber threat to critical services, identify and address vulnerabilities and provide expert incident management when a major attack does occur.
Mr Martin said in an NCSC press release today:
“Our job is to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online.
“We will help secure our critical services, lead the response to the most serious incidents and improve the underlying security of the Internet through technological improvement and advice to citizens and organisations.
“We want to be at the centre of a new era of online opportunity and help people to feel as safe as possible when using technology to its fullest potential.”
What can the NCSC do for you? - Services available online
Whatever we do to prepare and however sophisticated our defences, cyber incidents will still happen, and when they do the NCSC website offers advice and information, including support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for incidents that need that level of engagement.
It is planned that the NCSC will work closely with law enforcement and the wider public sector, including the National Crime Agency (NCA) to support cyber security awareness campaigns.
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