Ciaran Martin, the departing boss of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has reflected that recent events have been an “unexpected vindication” to spin out part of the intelligence agency GCHQ, so that classified intelligence could be better shared to protect the UK.
During his time at NCSC Mr Martin, who is leaving the civil service after 23 years for a position at Oxford University, has seen cyber security move to the centre of political debate, intertwining with geopolitics and wider national security issues. Speaking in his last few days of office, Martin says that the ongoing priority has to be making the internet easier to use safely, particularly as our dependence on technology continues to escalate. Martin has acknowledged how during the pandemic hackers were quick to exploit businesses with phishing messages, with demand for cyber-defences increasing across both public and private organisations. The NCSC worked with Government funded organisations to ensure they were protected against cyber affects as people shifted to home-working and the way we worked changed during the lock down period. Martin also referred to recent concerns regarding Russian intelligence. Commenting on this Martin said: "We have built up significant knowledge of some of the major attack groups from the major nation states, including Russia, over more than two decades. "For a lot of the things that we were seeing in the high end of vaccine protection, it was detected by us because it was the more sophisticated end, where the attacker is trying harder not to get caught." Reflecting on the WannaCry cyber-attack on the NHS in 2017, where many NHS computers were locked by Ransomware, he said: "My guess would be the next cyber-crisis will probably be, at least in part, an unintentional consequence of an attacker not really understanding what they're doing." Martin remains a cautious optimist about technology but reminds us all of the importance for cyber safety and security as he takes up his new post. For advice and support on cyber security for your business or place of work, and to ensure you and your team have the right tools and protocols in place, speak to a member of the NEBRC today.