The UK has not had to face a top-level cyber security threat before, but the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is continually preparing for what it considers to be inevitable.
“A level-1 cyber attack would be a classic national emergency that the government would take very seriously and the average person on the street would probably notice some sort of impact on their lives,” said Felicity Oswald, deputy director of strategy and effectiveness at NCSC.
“It is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’. We know it is going to happen,” she told a Policy-UK forum in London on the British approach to cyber security.
Most incidents are level-3. “These are every day incidents to us, but are still hugely significant to UK organisations,” said Oswald.
A level-2 incident typically matters at a sectoral level. It is a threat that is hitting more than one organisation or it is something on a national scale.
The NCSC has dealt with a “few hundred” of incidents in the first six months of its existence, said Oswald, but she did not say if any of those were level-2 incidents.
Responding to incidents is one of three main strategic goals of the NCSC. For this reason, the NCSC has a large incident management team. “We do our best to support all organisations during a cyber security incident or attack,” said Oswald.