Key takeaways from the National Cyber Security Centre Annual Review 2021

26th November 2021


At the National Cyber Security Centre Annual Review 2021, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, Steve Barclay, gave a speech about cybersecurity in the UK.

In it, he discussed how the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) mitigated cybersecurity incidents and addressed what challenges the UK will face in the future.

The effect of the pandemic on cybersecurity

It is hard to discuss cybersecurity in 2021 without addressing the effect COVID-19 had on cybersecurity risk management. The pandemic forced businesses and homes to lean more heavily on digital channels, providing ample opportunity for cybercriminals to scam people and businesses.

Fortunately, the NCSC's Active Cyber Defence programme thwarted numerous attack attempts. The programme took down over 2.3 million cyber-enabled commodity campaigns, including 442 phishing campaigns and 80 illegal NHS apps that were designed to download sensitive health information.

The Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) also received over eight million reports. Over six million of these were received in the previous year alone. Reporting these illicit emails allowed the NCSC to stop more than 67,000 scam operations.

These reports indicate the growing severity of cyberattacks, and how the shift to WFH gave cybercriminals ample opportunity to exploit security vulnerabilities.

The future of cybersecurity in the UK

The year 2021 is a landmark year for the NCSC because it marks the end of the UK's groundbreaking five-year cybersecurity strategy. The government will now proceed with a new strategy, and early signs indicate that it will be far more expansive than the previous plan.

The new strategy will take a whole-of-society approach to cybersecurity, with the UK government working with both public and private organisations to improve national cybersecurity infrastructure and ensure they can withstand cyberattacks in the future.

The government has also decided to increase the budget for cybersecurity by £114 million to £2.6 billion, indicating that the UK government is prioritising cybersecurity more than it did in previous years.

The next big leap in the cybersecurity landscape

The Annual Review revealed the growing importance of cybersecurity on a national scale.

In the past, cybersecurity was the domain of the private sector, with private companies taking responsibility for cybersecurity.

The pandemic catapulted cybersecurity into national focus, as governments recognised that more must be done to ensure that businesses and consumers can make important transactions securely.

This national prominence will lead to a more secure national cybersecurity infrastructure that will protect businesses and consumers from cyberattacks.