Cyber security business up for grabs, NCSC chief says

By Brian Meechan
BBC Wales business correspondent

image copyrightPA

Wales is well placed to take advantage of the growing industry in tackling online crime, according to the Cardiff-born director of operations at the new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Paul Chichester was back in his home city to speak to businesses.

He said cyber security was increasingly relevant regarding personal data and also online banking and shopping.

London-based NCSC, part of intelligence and communications agency GCHQ, was officially opened in February.

Mr Chichester said it dealt with the full spectrum of threats from nations trying to steal secrets and harm the UK's critical infrastructure through to citizens worried about bank accounts and personal identities online.

media captionCyber crime warning to Welsh businesses

He said Wales, in terms of geography, was close to GCHQ's base in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and could exploit its technology base and build on digital skills, offering local business opportunities.

"It's really important everyone invests the time, energy and effort to focus on the topic," he said.

"There are huge economic benefits in cyber security and we really want Wales to be at the heart of exploiting that. I visited Airbus [cyber security centre in Newport] recently and they have some fantastic capabilities there in their cyber arena."

A National Cyber Security Academy has been established in Newport to train the next generation of experts, while the Welsh Government wants to make south east Wales a hub for the industry.

"There are some really good beginnings there but we want to see more. In academia, we want to see the universities going on to be some of our centres of excellence."

He said it was also about underpinning digital knowledge at an early age and he was positive more children were growing up "living and breathing technology", with primary schools developing coding.


image copyrightGetty Images
image captionInside the National Cyber Security Centre
  • The new NCSC in London, officially opened by the Queen last month, is backed up by a national strategy and £1.9bn investment
  • Its website includes the latest advice on cyber threats.
  • Between last June and February, a total of 54,456 attacks were blocked and malicious content taken down by the host
  • 64% of these attacks targeted UK government departments to exploit British citizens by fraudulently obtaining online credentials and personal data
  • There were 3.8m fraud offences in the year to March 2016.
  • The aim is for the UK to become "the hardest of targets" for cyber criminals and for its nations to be "even better" at cyber security

Mr Chichester, who met members of Cardiff Business Club, said attacks were happening all the time, and included businesses being held to ransom by cyber-criminals hacking and taking over systems.

"Businesses and citizens are being targeted every day," he said.

"People need to be on their guard all the time and on the look out for suspicious emails or just be conscious that people are trying to get access to their data."

He said businesses also needed to regularly back up their data, especially with "ransomware" a real threat to the business community - when people take over systems and demand money before giving access back.

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