National Cyber Security Centre: Queen opens new HQ as business warned it is unprepared for attacks

The Queen has opened a new national centre combating cyber attacks as Britain's top businesses are warned they are not fully prepared to fight the rising threat of hackers.

Her Majesty was accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh and Chancellor Philip Hammond for the opening of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in central London, which is underpinned by £1.9 billion investment.

The NCSC, which is part of intelligence agency GCHQ, has already tackled 188 attacks in the past three months.

"The cyber attacks we are seeing are increasing in their frequency, their severity, and their sophistication," Mr Hammond said in an unveiling speech.

The Queen, who was accompanied by GCHQ director Robert Hannigan, returned to London last week after spending Christmas and the New Year in Norfolk. Credit: PA

At the weekend it was revealed that Britain's national security is threatened by dozens of cyber attacks every month, while 65% of large businesses reported a cyber breach or attack in the last year.

The centre will work with the industry to tighten security but Mr Hammond called on business to "sharpen its approach".

9 in 10

Businesses that the Government says lack an incident management plan in the event of a cyber breach.

"Nine out of 10 businesses don't even have an incident management plan in the event of a cyber breach," he said.

Major-General Chip Chapman, the Ministry of Defence's former head of counter terrorism, told ITV News the scale of cyber crime is "phenomenal" and amounts to an economy of trillions of dollars.

Besides the increasing threats to British business, he said the government's most vulnerable online presence was the site for the NHS.

Major-General Chapman, now the senior British military adviser to US Central Command, said individuals could take a few simple steps to avoid being among a group he coined the "pretty dumb people" who allow their online passwords to be harvested.

The NCSC's work will include looking for flaws in public sector sites, tackling spoof emails and forcing thousands of phishing websites offline.

The centre's Technical Director Dr Ian Levy said the NCSC will use the Government as "a guinea pig for all the measures we want to see done by industry at national scale".

The Queen waved to crowds as she opened the new National Cyber Security Centre, which is underpinned by £1.9 billion of extra government investment. Credit: PA

The Government will also run a new initiative, Industry 100, which will see 100 temporary places given to private sector staff to work in the centre.

Unveiling the scheme, Mr Hammond said the government "cannot protect businesses and the general public from the risks of cyber-attack on its own".

But he said the government would work "hand in hand" with the industry to "keep Britain safe".

The centre's chief executive Ciaran Martin said: "We will help secure our critical services, lead the response to the most serious incidents and improve the underlying security of the internet through technological improvement and advice to citizens and organisations."

GCHQ will act as a parent body to the new centre in Victoria, central London. Credit: PA