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CyberUK 22: NCSC’s ACD programme blocks 2.7 million scams

On the opening day of its annual CyberUK event, the NCSC reveals how organisations around the country have used its Active Cyber Defence programme to their advantage

The National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC’s) flagship Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme continues to expand, blocking and removing a record number of internet scams in 2021, including fake celebrity endorsements, fraudulent Covid-19 vaccine passports, NHS-linked phishing campaigns, and even cyber criminals purporting to be NCSC CEO Lindy Cameron herself.

On the opening day of its annual CyberUK event, which returns as a physical event for the first time since 2019, the NCSC revealed today that the ACD programme successfully saw off more than 2.7 million scams, up fourfold on 2020.

Other ACD successes include the blocking of over 1.2 million domains linked to Flubot, an Android malware that was spread via missed parcel delivery notifications; it flagged 33 million security events through its Early Warning service, which now has close to 5,000 customers; and reached 10,000 total users for its Exercise-in-a-Box incident response practice kit.

Speaking ahead of the event, the real Lindy Cameron said the programme’s growing success reflected the expansion of the NCSC’s services to take down malicious content, rather than an actual increase in cyber criminal activity. She also noted that the organisation’s work continued to be complemented by members of the public, who have forwarded over 10 million phishing emails to the NCSC’s reporting inbox.

“The latest ACD figures shine a light on how the NCSC has responded to emerging cyber threat trends and security issues to keep the UK safe at scale,” said Cameron. “We know that scammers will go to great lengths, and indeed my name has been used to try to trick people, but as we continue to expand our defences, we can see the tangible impact this is having.”

NCSC technical director Ian Levy reflected on five years of ACD, saying: “The highlights shared today evidence some of the crucial interventions we made last year to take down online threats, deter attackers and improve our collective cyber resilience. We will publish the full annual report on our website in due course.

“As ACD continues to grow and innovate, we strongly encourage the private sector to work even more closely with us to enhance the effectiveness of our services to take down and block malicious websites.”

Meanwhile, the CyberUK conference, which is taking place in Newport, South Wales, is this year centring the so-called “whole-of-society” approach to the UK’s national cyber security posture. This is in support of the aims of the government’s new National Cyber Strategy, which launched last December.

The event will unfold across a range of panels, sessions and interactive workshops, many of which continue to be streamed live on the NCSC’s YouTube channel. Besides old favourites such as ransomware awareness and supply chain security, key topics this year will inevitably include the global cyber security community’s response to the war in Ukraine, and the potential threat that Russia’s invasion poses to organisations in the UK.

The conference will also play host to the Cyber Den competition, which sees emerging security companies pitch their solutions to various security challenges to the NCSC’s own dragons, with the winner receiving a year’s worth of tailored support and assistance to develop their product or service further.

The full CyberUK 2022 programme can be found here.

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