Fighting terrorism ‘as important as fighting cyber attacks’, says GCHQ

The head of the intelligence monitoring service at The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Jeremy Fleming, announced to the BBC that fighting terrorism is as important as keeping the UK safe from cyber attacks.

Fleming revealed to the BBC that after the parliament and NHS suffered cyber attacks this year, increased funding for GCHQ was being spent on making it a “cyber organisation”, as much as an intelligence and counter-terrorism one.

He said there were 600 “significant” cyber-attacks needing a national response in the last year.

“We see that in the way terrorists are constantly changing their weapons, or states are using their full range of tools to steal secrets, gain influence and attack our economy,” said Fleming to the Daily Telegraph.

‘Keeping citizens safe and free online’

“Until the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was set up last year, GCHQ’s work on cyber-security “too often felt like the poor relation,” he added.

As part of its cyber security role, NCSC has been working with schools, universities, private firms and the media, using a “world-leading programme” to prevent cyber-attacks.

Fleming added to the BBC: “If GCHQ is to continue to help keep the country safe, then protecting the digital homeland – keeping our citizens safe and free online – must become and remain as much part of our mission as our global intelligence reach and our round-the-clock efforts against terrorism.”

The head of NCSC, Ciaran Martin, noted 1.313 cyber attacks were reported in the centre’s first year.

Written by Leah Alger