NCSC’s Cameron urges deeper cyber alliance-building

by Joseph K. Clark

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) CEO Lindy Cameron has again discussed 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 organizations to protect citizens and build confidence in digital technology.

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

 cyber alliance-building

“Covid has been a shared challenge across the world – and like coronavirus, cyber security does not recognize geographic borders,” said Cameron. “Nations face shared threats from cybercriminals 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 solid 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 organization. Everybody has their part to play – the 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. They have pioneered taking this to a different level.”

Cameron added: “Israel is a cybernation. 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 cyberattacks, Cameron also warned against the illegal and irresponsible use of offensive cyber capabilities by nation-states and noted that some states cannot build high-end ones capacity 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 cyberspace 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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