UK intelligence agency plans to build a nation-wide DNS ‘firewall’

Ciara Martin, the current Director-General Cyber at the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) the first Chief Executive of the new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said that the new organization will adopt a more active posture in defending the UK from a range of cyber threats the UK currently faces, as well as the need to “formalize and integrate operational partnerships with law enforcement, defense and private industry.”

dink_cartoon_gchq_snoop_650At the Billington Cyber Security Summit in Washington DC, on September 12, 2016, Mr. Martin announced that the organization is working on a flagship project on scaling up DNS filtering, where the major private providers block “effectively their customers from coming into contact with known malware and bad addresses”.

A DNS attack is an exploit in which an attacker takes advantage of vulnerabilities in the domain name system. DNS is a protocol that translates an IP into a user-friendly domain name. It is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers, services, or any resources connected to the Internet or a private network. DNS associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities.

According to Martin, 65% of all large UK companies reported a breach in the in 2015. With the new project, Martin said that ”looking at phishing attacks against UK government brands, the median time the phishing site is up has dropped from 49 hours to 5 hours. A clear, verifiable improvement.”

The strategies are reported to come under the new NCSC which opens this October. The facility hopes to bring together national expertise from the world of cybersecurity, including officials from MI5 and GCHQ, as well as partnerships with law firms and the private sector. The experts will share best practices and explore ways to better protect business and national infrastructure from attack.

Reina Ho

Reina Ho is a freelance reporter who focuses on censorship and information control in online space.

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