The British government has disclosed new plans to build a national firewall to block widespread malicious attacks, as well as boosting its defences against the most serious national cyber threats.
The plan was revealed by Ciaran Martin, the director of general cyber security at GCHQ, at a recent conference in Washington.
He spoke about how the government aims to adopt a more active stance in defending the UK from a range of cyber threats, and the need for government, industry and law enforcement to work together further.
Martin’s remarks were his first as the chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a new organisation designed to better coordinate Britain’s cyber defences.
The plan consists of three main areas – creating “organisational coherence” with the launch of the NCSC, defending the UK against the most serious threats, and improving its security ecosystem to tackle unsophisticated but widespread threats across the entire country.
The “ambitious strategy” laid out includes plans to automate defences against “unsophisticated but prolific attacks” across the UK, whether they be targeting citizens, small businesses or charities.
Such strategies include looking at ways to boost DNS filtering on a national level to stop malicious sites and attacks.
As Martin explained at the Billington Cyber Security Summit in Washington: “We’re exploring a flagship project on scaling up DNS filtering: what better way of providing automated defences at scale than by the major private providers effectively blocking their customers from coming into contact with known malware and bad addresses?
“Now it’s crucial that all of these economy-wide initiatives are private sector led. The Government does not own or operate the Internet. Consumers must have a choice. Any DNS filtering would have to be opt out based. So addressing privacy concerns and citizen choice is hardwired into our programme.”
He also said the organisation was working with the telecommunications industry to stop the “well-known abuse” of the BGP and SS7 protocols to reroute traffic, in an effort to make it more difficult for UK machines to participate in a DDOS attack.
In addition to this, the NCSC also wants to bolster the security of its most important government & national systems, as while Martin admitted that the UK had not yet had a “single stand-out” hostile foreign cyber attack on a national crisis level, he expects the country will soon face one.
Martin said last year the government’s cyber defence centre detected twice as many national security level cyber incidents — 200 per month — than they did a year ago.
In addition to this new plan, the chief executive said the NCSC wants to be judged on results, saying: “Hard data and hard, credible evidence has been scarce in cyber security thus far. Part of the agenda will be the publication of data and evidence about what is and isn’t working, and metrics about the outcomes achieved. If we succeed, we want to be able to prove it, not just assert it. If we fail, we don’t expect to be able to hide.”
Read the full speech here.