Protecting British citizens against cyber attacks must be given the same priority as fighting terrorism, the head of GCHQ has warned as online threats continue to rise.
“If GCHQ is to continue to help keep the country safe, then protecting the digital homeland — keeping our citizens safe and free online — must become and remain as much part of our mission as our global intelligence reach and our round-the-clock efforts against terrorism,” wrote GCHQ Director Jeremy Flemming in Sunday’s Daily Telegraph.
Fleming said that although technological advances greatly benefit the public, “hostile states, terrorists and criminals use those same features — instant connectivity and encrypted communications — to undermine our national security, attack our interests and, increasingly, commit crime.”
He added that the government’s funding is now being used “to make GCHQ a cyber organisation as well as an intelligence and counter-terrorism one.” GHCQ’s head added that over the past year, the spy agency’s cyber arm — the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) has fended off nearly 600 “significant” cyber incidents. Fleming also mentioned that until the NSCS was set up, the GCHQ’s in-house cyber division “too often felt like the poor relation”.
GCHQ’s head said that despite the NSCS now possessing a “world-leading programme to reduce the incidence and impact of cyber attacks without users even noticing,” it is still challenging for the spy agency to function as it did before. This is because the NCSC is much more visible, as it “proactively engages with the media, and has a high profile in schools and universities”.
Written by DFGR Research Team.
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