The UK’s cybersecurity agency has handled more than 60 “nationally significant” cyberattacks in the past year, an official report has revealed.
The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), a division of GCHQ, did not directly specify what the attacks were, but spoke of ransomware attacks targeting the helpline service. NHS 111 and also the water company, South Staffordshire Water, sparked a nationwide response.
“The ransomware threat has been present – and remains a major challenge for businesses and the public service in the UK,” the NCSC said in its annual review published on Tuesday. .
It said a growing focus over the past year has been supporting Ukraine’s cyber defenders in fending off widespread and aggressive Russian cyberattacks in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion. .
The NCSC said the war had “made the cybersecurity threat more of a focus in the UK”.
The UK government earlier on Tuesday revealed a former secret attempt to help Ukraine protect itself from cyberattacks under a scheme worth more than £6 million.
“Ukrainian authorities – supported by the NCSC – have created robust cyber defenses that limit the impact of Russian activities,” the annual report said.
“Ukraine’s successful defensive operations are a prime example for cyber defenders around the world.”
The network center also mentions China. It said Beijing’s burgeoning technological capabilities are likely to be the biggest factor influencing UK cybersecurity going forward.
According to the report, despite the risk posed by foreign nations in cyberspace, the biggest threat to UK civilians and small businesses online is from cybercriminals.
This includes phishing attacks and hacking of social media accounts. For example, there were 2.7 million cyber-related frauds in the 12 months to March 2022.
Summing up its work over the past 12 months, the NCSC said its officials have managed the response to hundreds of cyber incidents. This includes 63 events it describes as “of national significance”.