The UK’s surveillance agency GCHQ is planning to create a British firewall offering protection against malicious hackers.
The proposal was made at a conference in Washington by the director general of cyber at GCHQ, Ciaran Martin, who is also head of the National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ.
Asking GCHQ for protection carries risks, given its ability to hack into the private details of companies, but some companies and customers might be tempted by the trade-off in terms of proposed security against hackers.
Its prime aim is to protect government sites and industries regarded as central to national security but it is offering to widen the scope to include major private companies.
Martin’s proposal is only in its infancy. It would raise privacy concerns from customers about major companies opting to place themselves within the GCHQ corral.
Martin told the Billington cybersecurity conference that the number of cyber security incidents – about 200 a month are detected – was growing and was double the level a year ago.
Martin said the UK was vulnerable and a “flagship project” was being explored to protect against customers coming into contact with known malware and bad addresses.
It was his first public comments as head of the National Cyber Security Centre, which formally opens next month.