UK cyber security service urges firms to access early warning system

The organisation that is in the front line of the UK’s cyber security fight has urged firms to take advantage of its early warning system, launched this this week after it reported a 15 fold leap in the number of cyber-crimes detected.

Speaking to Emerging Risks, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said firms needed to use every available weapon they can to fight the rising threat of cyber-crime.

The comments came as the NCSC launched its new Early Warning Service designed to alert firms of new threats and scams.

Eleanor Fairford, the NCSC’s Deputy Director for Incident Management, said: “When it comes to defending against online threats, having relevant, timely alerts you can trust about malicious activity is vital for any organisation.

“The NCSC’s new Early Warning service delivers on this, by providing organisations specialised alerts about potential cyber threats affecting their networks.

“We encourage organisations to sign up for this service to help them resolve security issues quickly and reduce the risk of serious harm being done.”

One of the NCSC’s key roles is to be a point of support and contact for organisations reporting cyber incidents, and Early Warning is the latest Active Cyber Defence (ACD) service aimed at helping them improve their cyber resilience.

“Subscribing to Early Warning comes with a number of unique benefits, including alerts based on an organisation’s network details and access to information feeds that are unavailable elsewhere,” an NSCS spokesman told Emerging Risks.

Organisations will receive different types of alert, covering possible network compromises; notification of how their assets have been associated with undesirable activity or about their networks running vulnerable services that may need updating.

The NSCS published it annual threat report last week which found that in 2020 it thwarted more attacks than in the previous three years combined.

“The NCSC’s ACD programme continues to tackle the threat from online scams and our Takedown Service is there to prevent more cyber-attacks harming the UK,” added the spokesman. “The 15-fold increase in scams removed was as a result of expanding the coverage of our Takedown Service – not because there was a corresponding 15-fold increase in scams.”

“Last year scams included fake ‘celebrity-endorsed’ investment schemes, fake shops and those using COVID-19 as a theme, and we successfully removed thousands in these categories,” he added.

The move remote working has created new threats and the NCSC said firms need to be aware of the changing nature of the risk.

“Many organisations had to move swiftly to remote working last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and found themselves tasked with securing a new kind of IT network,” explained the spokesman. “We don’t underestimate how challenging that was, and so we produced a range of products designed to help businesses securely facilitate remote working.

“We produced written guidance on preparing organisations for remote working, securely setting up video conferencing technology, and added a ‘Home and Remote Working’ exercise to our hugely popular Exercise in a Box toolkit for businesses owners to test their defences in a roleplay exercise centred around home and remote working.”

The spokesman added: “The NCSC’s guidance also addresses cyber security issues relevant to home working such as our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) guidance for those using personal rather than work devices when working remotely and our VPN Guidance, which covers everything from choosing a VPN to the advice you give to your staff.”

However the threat was applicable to firms of all sizes said the NCSC.

“Cyber criminals are opportunistic and look to take advantage of common or topical fears to make their scams seem more convincing, and we’ve seen this during the pandemic,” the spokesman explained. “The NCSC encourages SMEs and larger organisations to take advantage of our bespoke guidance, which offers practical advice on how to improve cyber security.”

He added the current threats emanate from across the globe.

“Cyber criminals sending scam messages can be located anywhere, and we see scams that originate in the UK and abroad,” he added. “we urge organisations in the UK to take steps to strengthen their cyber security. There is advice and guidance on how to do so available at”

One of the NCSC’s key roles is to be a point of support and contact for organisations reporting cyber incidents, and Early Warning is the latest Active Cyber Defence (ACD) service aimed at helping them improve their cyber resilience.