The NCSC said China was a “highly sophisticated” operator in cyber space, with “increasing ambition to project its influence beyond its borders” and a proven interest in the UK’s commercial secrets.
Fleming warned: “We can see technology leadership is shifting eastwards. Key technology we will rely on for future prosperity and security won’t necessarily have democratic values at its core. We will work with partners around the world to help the UK and allies face this moment of reckoning.”
It is believed that the total number of incidents the NCSC responded to over the last year rose, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This saw an increase in ransomware attacks, as cyber criminals took advantage of companies moving to flexible working patterns, before demanding ransoms of thousands of pounds in return for the retrieval of encrypted company data.
Chief Executive of the NCSC, Lindy Cameron, said: “One of the trends the NCSC has seen over the last year is a worrying growth in criminal groups using ransomware to extort organisations. In my view it is now the most immediate cyber security threat to UK businesses and one that I think should be higher on the boardroom agenda.”
20% of the 777 incidents the NCSC had to tackle this year were linked to the health sector and vaccines, including hospitals and research centres. The agency said the University of Oxford protected itself from an attempted ransomware attack “with the potential to cause significant disruption” due to the help offered by the NCSC’s services. This was critical, as the AstraZenica vaccination could’ve been disrupted by a major cyber incident.