arturas kerdokas - Fotolia

Labour pledges review of NCSC in UK security overhaul

The UK's National Cyber Security Centre may get expanded powers under a Labour government

The Labour Party has set out a range of cyber security policies in its manifesto, pledging to undertake an immediate review of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) with the objective of expanding its powers, among other things.

In its newly released manifesto for the 12 December General Election, Labour promised a wide-ranging overhaul of the UK’s cyber security posture.

“We will review the role and remit of the NCSC to determine whether it should be given powers as an auditing body, with the ability to issue warnings to private and public sector organisations and designate risk,” wrote the manifesto’s authors.

The NCSC, which declined to comment on Labour’s proposals, was set up in 2016 as part of the National Cyber Security Strategy mandate. It has become firmly established on the UK’s cyber security scene, and it is regarded as one of the Strategy’s few genuine successes.

In its most recent annual report, the NCSC revealed it had handled 658 major cyber incidents in the past year and provided support to 900 victim organisations. It also issues major alerts and guidance, administers the Cyber Essentials certification programme, and supports the delivery of cyber security education and skills training in schools and universities.

The wider National Cyber Security Strategy will reach the end of its planned lifespan in 2021, and civil servants at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have already begun to plan for what comes next, whether that be a continuation of the same basic programme, or something entirely new.

In its manifesto, Labour acknowledged that the risk of cyber crime and cyber warfare were growing, not just in the UK but all over the world, threatening vital power grids and other utilities, transport systems, communications networks, and the NHS.

It said a Labour government would overhaul the country’s cyber security by creating a new dedicated coordinating ministerial post and conducting regular reviews of the UK’s cyber readiness.

It is also proposing to review the structures and roles of the National Crime Agency (NCA) with the intention of strengthening the response to all types of economic crime, which naturally includes cyber crime and online fraud.

Labour hopes this will help to equip the UK’s various police forces with adequate capacity and the right skills set to combat online crime, supported by a national strategy on cyber crime and fraud.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrat manifesto included some barebones cyber security policies in a section devoted to wider national security issues and the armed services.

The Lib Dems said they recognised the expansion of warfare into the cyber sphere and would target it by “investing in our security and intelligence services and acting to counter cyber attacks”.

The Conservatives, who earlier this week faced renewed criticism after doctoring an official campaign social media account to resemble an independent fact checking body, are expected to launch their manifesto in the next few days.

Read more about the General Election

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

Data Center
Data Management