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National Cyber Security Centre ‘nerve centre’ officially opened in London

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a wing of intelligence agency GCHQ, was today officially opened by the Queen to act as an “operational nerve centre” in London to protect the country against cyber-attacks.

The NCSC was launched in October 2016 to work with public and private sector organisations to create cyber defences and educate workforces to manage cyber security attacks.

The opening of the centre follows the announcement of a five-year National Cyber Security Strategy, accompanied by £1.9bn worth of transformational investment back in November.

In a report outlining its current purpose and future ambitions, the NCSC promised to help public sector organisations successfully adopt and learn about new technologies that can protect their own and their user’s online security.

It also announced its partnership with Nominet UK to develop a DNS service for the sector that will protect their networks and generate data to better understand the state of the security behind public servers.

There are also plans to improve security for both local and central governments by the promotion of ‘Webcheck’, a service that will allow authorities to create an easy-to-read report to educate staff about common vulnerabilities on internet domains they own and how to fix them.

NCSC CEO Ciaran Martin explained the organisation’s aim to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online, saying: “We will help secure our critical services, lead the response to the most serious incidents and improve the underlying security of the internet through technological improvement and advice to citizens and organisations.

“We want to be at the centre of a new era of online opportunity and help people to feel as safe as possible when using technology to its fullest potential.”

Also speaking at the launch of the centre, Philip Hammond noted that, as chancellor, he knows “how significant our digital sector is for the UK economy – worth over £118bn per year”.

“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,” he added.

“Britain is transforming its capabilities in cyber defence and deterrence. It’s crucial we take action now to defend ourselves and protect our economy.”

Martin’s colleague Dr Ian Levy, technical director at the NCSC, explained that the government will be “used as a guinea pig” for all the measures it wants to see done by industry at a national scale. This will include everything from free website vulnerability scanning for public sector organisations and proactively taking down phishing sites, right down to the Cyber First campaign that encourages youngsters 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,” concluded Dr Levy.

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