Role of the NCSC in cybersecurity

NCSC  – Its role in UK Cyber Security

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was officially opened in February 2017.  Although it had actually been operational since October 2016. It comes under the aegis of GCHQ and includes some existing GCHQ staff.  It has absorbed some staff from other government organisations, along with recruiting some people from the private sector.

While there has been much fanfare about the creation of the NCSC and its basic purpose is clear from the name, it may be less clear what the NCSC actually does or how it does it.

The NCSC works to ensure the security of the internet in the UK

The NCSC tries to stop cyber attacks from happening in the first place.  If they do take place, it tries to thwart them.  A lot of its work involves supporting organisations such as businesses, especially small ones, by providing them with expert advice.  The work of the NCSC can be divided into four, key areas:

1. Working to understand the nature and extent of cybersecurity threats

In many ways, cyber security is much the same as real-world security and one of those ways is that effective security depends on understanding the nature and extent of the threat(s) in order to be able to deploy appropriate counter measures.

Just as in the field of real-world security, the nature and extent of threats is constantly changing, which is why continual vigilance and specialist knowledge within agencies are a must.

2. Working to secure organisational networks

The NCSC does not act like the nation’s IT Support department. However, it does provide advice and guidance to organisations to help them to secure their own networks.  Also, to stop, or at least reduce, the number of cyber attacks we have seen over recent years.

3. Responding to cyber security incidents

While prevention is always better than a cure, the reality is that cyber attacks are highly unlikely to disappear any time soon.  This is exactly why the government is spending so much time and effort on cybersecurity.

Any cyber security attack has to be effectively managed.  If it is successful, it needs to be understood and the impact analysed and minimised. Even if it is unsuccessful, it still needs to be noted and analysed to determine what, precisely, stopped it and what lessons can be learned.

4. Developing Cyber talent and technology

Even though this may currently be the least visible part of the NCSC’s role at the present time, in years to come it may turn out to be its highest-profile responsibility.

There is widespread consensus that the role of technology is only going to increase as time goes by.  As more devices go online and become smarter, the potential for exploiting vulnerabilities is going to become greater and greater.

That is why the NCSC openly sees it as vital to develop talent and technology today in order to be ready for the challenges the future will inevitably bring.   In particular, to ensure that the most sensitive (and vulnerable) sectors have sufficient and effective protection.