UK’s New National Cyber Security Centre

Britain's war against the soaring number of cyber-attacks is to be led from a new HQ in the centre of London opening this week. The UK government has outlined what the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will do, how it will work and who it will work for.

The National Cyber Security Centre, close to Victoria station, will be tasked with bolstering security against the growing online threats from around the globe. It will be the front line in the UK’s battle to protect itself from cyber-attacks emanating from countries including China and Russia as well as from terrorists and criminal gangs.

The objectives of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre are to address systemic vulnerabilities, reduce risks, respond to serious incidents and nurture national cyber security capability.

The NCSC opened in October 2016 and is based in Victoria, London. The NCSC will be led by CEO Ciaran Martin, (pictured) formerly director general of government and industry cyber security at intelligence agency GCHQ.

Some of Britain’s best technological minds will break new ground in the bid to develop defences for the Government to block malware and phishing emails automatically.

The HQ will be located in property giant Land Securities’ ultra-modern Nova development, including offices, shops, restaurants and bars, off Victoria Street and close to Buckingham Palace.

Specialist teams for the City, Whitehall, intelligence and security services, energy, telecoms, other parts of the critical national infrastructure and businesses will help them fight against and respond to general and more specific threats to their sectors. 

It will be part of GCHQ, whose main centre is the spy listening hub in Cheltenham. But it will be more open and outward-facing, given that it will need to interact with businesses, Government, other organisations and the public to boost cyber defences.

It will be an operational centre whose focus will be defensive work to combat increasingly sophisticated as well as more routine attacks on London and other parts of the UK. If needed, it will be able to call on offensive cyber capabilities developed by GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence.

The technical director for the NCSC will be Ian Levy, formerly technical director of Cyber Security at GCHQ.

The NCSC, believed to be a world first with its links to the intelligence service, will have four key tasks:

  1. Respond to cyber security attacks to limit their damage, help with recovery and learn lessons to reduce the risks of recurrence. For very serious incidents, messages may have to be issued on how the public can protect themselves.
  2. Cut risks to the UK by working with public and private sector organisations to beef up their cyber security.
  3. Understand the cyber security environment, share knowledge and use that expertise to identify and address systemic vulnerabilities.
  4. Build Britain’s cyber security capability and provide leadership on critical issues by identifying threats and technology trends.

The NCSC will have 700 staff, more than half based at the new HQ.

Photo of Ciaran Martin: Copyright GCHQ

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