NCSC’s Cameron urges deeper cyber alliance-building

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National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) CEO Lindy Cameron has again talked up the importance of international alliance-building in the fight against cyber threats, in a speech delivered to an audience at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Addressing the university’s annual Cyber Week, Cameron said the UK was “absolutely committed” to working with Israeli organisations to protect citizens and build confidence in digital technology.

She described Israel as a long-standing, like-minded and highly capable partner to the UK as she focused on the strength of the two countries’ relationship in tackling shared threats, both from cyber criminals and state-backed actors. Security, she said, is a “global team sport” in which continued cooperation carries mutual benefits.

“Covid has been a shared challenge across the world – and like coronavirus, cyber security does not recognise geographic borders,” said Cameron. “Nations face shared threats from cyber criminals and state actors who seek to do our nations harm. And we can learn so much from one another.

“Operational collaboration between our agencies – and many other agencies represented at this conference – is strong and well-developed. It focuses on exchanges of threat reporting and analysis of trends, something I am pleased to say continued successfully throughout lockdown.

“The UK and its allies share a belief that a nation’s cyber security cannot simply be done by one government organisation. Everybody has their part to play – public sector, private sector and citizens. And the NCSC and INCD [Israeli National Cyber Directorate] here in Israel both see partnering with the private sector as an explicit priority and have pioneered taking this to a different level.”

Cameron added: “Israel is a cyber nation. You don’t have to dive too deep into the Israeli cyber ecosystem to find inspiration. So much of what any country achieves in cyber security depends on its work with international allies – because the stronger any one of us is, the stronger we all will become.”

Israel has a wealth of cyber expertise and has spawned multiple globally renowned security companies that contribute over $6bn a year to the country’s economy. Many of them were founded by veterans of the Israeli Defence Forces’ (IDF’s) signals intelligence brigade, Unit 8200, which serves as a proving ground for advanced security technology.

Cameron highlighted a recent successful project that saw the Software Security Knowledge Area of the UK’s Cyber Body of Knowledge, or CyBOK translated into Hebrew at the request of the INCD. She said: “The CyBOK is an NCSC-sponsored guide distilling the knowledge of the world’s leading cyber security experts. It’s not a short read, but through this sharing of expertise, we all grow stronger together.”

She also touched on the global challenge posed by the current epidemic of ransomware attacks, describing it as the most disruptive threat facing defenders as incidents grow larger and more complex – the recent attack on the systems of Kaseya being a timely example.

The day after the UK and US joined forces to condemn an alleged China-backed campaign of cyber attacks, Cameron also warned against the illegal and irresponsible use of offensive cyber capabilities by nation states, and noted in particular that some states that cannot build high-end capability themselves are now able to buy it.

“We believe the cyber security threats we face are shared globally,” she said. “So it is vital that all cyber actors use capabilities in a way that is legal, responsible and proportionate to ensure cyber space remains a safe and prosperous place for everyone. And we will work with allies to achieve this.”

Cameron’s full speech as delivered is available to read here.


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