The United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently released its 2022 Annual Review, which reports on the state of cyber security threats in the country. As the UK’s technical authority for cyber security, the NCSC releases an annual report covering the cyber threats from the prior 12 months as well as analysis of potential future challenges.
In the report, the NCSC states that ransomware remains an ever-present threat to both businesses and public services in the UK. During the report period of September 2021 – August 2022, the NCSC notes that there were 18 ransomware attacks in the UK that required a nationally coordinated response. This included attacks on a supplier to NHS 111, a non-emergency medical helpline, as well as South Staffordshire Water, a water and utility company.
Without citing to specific incidents, the NCSC also expresses concern over the international cyber security threats posed by both Russia and China. During the report period, Russia sought to use disruptive cyber operations to support its military campaign during its invasion of Ukraine, and the NCSC assisted Ukrainian authorities in their cyber defenses. Despite the prominence of Russia’s efforts, as noted by the NCSC, China’s technical evolution is likely to be the single largest factor affecting the UK’s cyber security posture in the future. The NCSC notes that China’s activity has become more sophisticated, and the nation has increasingly targeted third-party technology and service supply chains, as well as exploited software vulnerabilities.
The NCSC predicts that the proliferation and commercial availability of cyber capabilities will continue, with further malicious cyber tools being made available to a wider range of state and non-state actors. Further, the NCSC believes that these tools will be deployed more frequently and with less predictability, expanding the threat to the UK. As such, the NCSC “stepped up” its automated notification service with the launch of a service that alerts members of potential threats, risks, vulnerabilities, or open ports in their networks. The NCSC details various other actions it took to help businesses and the public sector improve resilience and response to cyber threats, including community engagement and widening the scope of advice and guidance released by the NCSC.