UK targeted with hundreds of coronavirus-themed cyberattacks

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The UK is being bombarded with online attacks themed around coronavirus, according to the government's cybersecurity arm.

The latest annual report from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ, said that over a quarter of attacks it responded to were Covid-related.

Over the course of September 2019 to August 2020, the NCSC investigated 723 major security incidents, 194 of which were related to Covid-19. This was an increase of around 10% on previous years following the NCSC's launch, showing the potential for threats that the pandemic created.

Covid attacks

In order to deal with the pandemic, the NCSC reported that it had also carried out a number of initiatives to help protect businesses and public sector organisations alike. This included rolling out Active Cyber Defence (ACD) services to 235 front-line health bodies, including NHS Trusts, across the UK, and scanning more than a million NHS IP addresses to check for weaknesses.

The NCSC and the City of London Police also launched the Suspicious Email Reporting Service, which received 2.3 million reports from the public in its first four months – resulting in thousands of malicious websites being taken down.

The NCSC has also looked to advise workers and businesses that are taking part in remote working for the first time, offering advice to companies of all sizes on how to stay safe online.

“This review outlines the breadth of remarkable work delivered by the NCSC in the past year, largely against a backdrop of the shared global crisis of coronavirus," noted Lindy Cameron, Chief Executive of the NCSC.

“From handling hundreds of incidents to protecting our democratic institutions and keeping people safe while working remotely, our expertise has delivered across multiple frontiers. This has all been achieved with the fantastic support of government, businesses and citizens and I would urge them to continue contributing to our collective cyber security.”

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.