As the NCSC Celebrates its First Year, Why We Need to Focus on Layered Security

by Bharat Mistry

There’s not been much to celebrate in cybersecurity recently. The shadow of the Equifax breach still hangs over the industry as a cautionary tale of what can happen if security processes and execution aren’t 100% watertight. In fact, Europol last week reported stats claiming over two billion records on European citizens have been leaked over the past 12 months. While there’s clearly lots to do, it was heartening to see the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) this week reporting a successful first year in operation.

The GCHQ offshoot claimed to have dealt with 590 “significant” cyber threats reported over the 12-month period. While we’re 100% behind its work, it’s obvious the scale of the problem and the determination of online attackers continues to rise. That means organisations must also take matters into their own hands with best practice, layered cybersecurity.

A successful year
The NCSC’s annual report revealed countless positives from the organisation’s first year in operation. These include:

A Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP) which has seen its community grow by 43% with the platform receiving 4000+ visits per month.

The NCSC website, which has become a valuable resource in its own right, with 51 reports and 37 pieces of guidance issued so far.

An Active Cyber Defence programme for the public sector, which has seen:

  • Implementation of anti-phishing standard DMARC across government
  • An initiative to block users from following malicious links
  • Roll-out of a “Web Check” vulnerability scanning service
  • Introduction of a phishing/malware reporting service

The NCSC said that these and other initiatives helped to block over 20,000 malicious domains in August and prevent nearly 80,000 phishing attacks over the year. That’s not to mention the sterling work of its cryptography team in helping to protect our national defences from online threats.

Layered Security
However, the fact that the NCSC is forced to deal with an average of nearly two significant incidents each day highlights the sheer scale of the cyber-challenge facing UK organisations. Trend Micro blocked 32 billion threats including 82 million ransomware attacks, while our Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) disclosed 382 vulnerabilities – in the first six months of 2017 alone.

What does this mean for UK IT leaders? It means certainly getting involved in information-sharing schemes like CiSP to improve your threat awareness and preparedness, and reaching out to the NCSC and other organisations in the event of a major incident.

But it also means renewing your focus on layered security. Today’s cyber-threats range from commodity malware to advanced info-stealing trojans, ransomware, banking malware and much more. To stand the best chance of combatting everything thrown at your organisation, it’s essential to invest in multiple linked capabilities which each offer a different technique optimised to prevent a specific threat or category of threats.

That’s what Trend Micro’s XGen approach does. It’s a cross-generational blend of threat defence techniques including app control; IPS and firewalls; web, email and cloud protection; and DLP and encryption. Together they become much more than the sum of their parts; combined with shared intelligence to offer industry-leading protection with centralised visibility and control.

With the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to land in just seven months, organisations must get more proactive about securing their most important assets. That means building cyber-defences up one complementary layer at a time.

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