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The Queen has opened the UK’s new national centre devoted to combating cyber attacks - as Britain's businesses were warned they are not fully prepared to fight the rising threat presented by hackers.
Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, Her Majesty opened the £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in central London.
The centre, part of GCHQ, has actually been operational since October and has been responding to incidents and mitigating against attacks.
"The cyber attacks we are seeing are increasing in their frequency, their severity, and their sophistication," Mr Hammond said as the NCSC was officially opened.
The government is warning businesses that they could be vulnerable to cyber attacks, with its research showing that two-thirds of large businesses experienced a cyber breach or attack in 2016. What’s more, it says 90 per cent of businesses don’t have an incident management plan in place, should a cyber breach happen.
The government has embarked on a “rigorous” approach to tackling cyber crime with a £1.9 billion investment over the next five years, spearheaded by the NCSC.
The Queen’s guided tour of the centre included demonstrations by NCSC staff of the UK’s past, present and future cyber threats and finishing with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to mark its opening.
The NCSC’s technical director Dr Ian Levy said: “We’re actively working to reduce the harm caused by cyber attacks against the UK and will use the government as a guinea pig for all the measures we want to see done by industry at national scale.
“This includes everything from free website vulnerability scanning for public sector and proactively taking down tens of thousands of phishing sites, to our world-leading CyberFirst campaign to encourage teenagers to become tomorrow’s cyber security pioneers.
“These initiatives illustrate the sort of cutting edge innovation the NCSC will spearhead to make Britain as safe as possible to both live and work online – and we’ll do it transparently, driven by evidence and publishing our results.”
Since October the NCSC said it has delivered pilot services designed to find vulnerabilities in public sector websites, helped government departments manage spoofing of their email and taken down tens of thousands of phishing sites targeting the UK.
The government also announced a new initiative, Industry 100, which will see 100 temporary places given to private sector staff to work in the centre.
Mr Hammond said: “This cutting-edge centre will cement our position as world leader in cyber security and work carried out here will ensure our country remains resilient to potential attacks.
“Britain is transforming its capabilities in cyber defence and deterrence. It’s crucial we take action now to defend ourselves and protect our economy.”
The Cyber Defence Capability Assessment Tool (CDCAT), licensed to APMG by Ploughshare, supports the Government's Cyber Essentials Scheme. It provides a comprehensive tool for organisations to assess their cyber defences and identify any vulnerabilities they may have. As the frequency of attacks increase, the tool is an essential method to mitigate any threats cybercriminals pose.