Preserving the UK protected from cyber-attacks is now as essential as preventing terrorism, the top of the intelligence monitoring service GCHQ has stated.
Jeremy Fleming stated elevated funding for GCHQ was being spent on making it a “cyber-organisation” as a lot as an intelligence and counter-terrorism one.
It comes after the NHS and parliament suffered cyber-attacks this yr.
Mr Fleming stated there had been practically 600 “important” cyber-attacks needing a nationwide response within the final yr.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the ex-deputy director of MI5, who turned GCHQ director in March, stated the UK’s adversaries had been “fast to identify new methods of doing us hurt”.
“We see that in the way in which terrorists are continually altering their weapons, or states are utilizing their full vary of instruments to steal secrets and techniques, achieve affect and assault our financial system”.
However he stated till the UK’s Nationwide Cyber Safety Centre (NCSC) was arrange final yr, GCHQ’s work on cyber-security “too usually felt just like the poor relation”.
The NCSC now has a “world-leading programme to cut back the incidence and affect of cyber-attacks with out customers even noticing,” he added.
It now works with personal companies, faculties and universities in addition to the media, as a part of its cyber-security position.
That may “really feel deeply difficult” for the secretive Cheltenham-based company, which is used to working “within the shadows”, he added.
Nonetheless, he stated: “If GCHQ is to proceed to assist hold the nation protected, then defending the digital homeland – preserving our residents protected and free on-line – should change into and stay as a lot a part of our mission as our world intelligence attain and our round the clock efforts in opposition to terrorism.”
In Might, NHS providers throughout England and Scotland had been hit by a large-scale cyber-attack that disrupted hospital and GP appointments.
The incident was a part of an untargeted wider assault affecting organisations globally.
And in June, as much as 90 e mail accounts had been compromised through the cyber-attack on Parliament.
Final week, NCSC head Ciaran Martin stated 1,131 cyber-attacks were reported within the centre’s first yr.
Of these, 590 had been classed as important and greater than 30 had been assessed as severe sufficient to require a cross-government response.