Government’s Active Cyber Defence Programme gets one-year report

The UK government has revealed an extensive report into the effectiveness of its Active Cyber Defence Programme (ACD), one year since it was launched.

ACD was launched with the aim of creating an ecosystem of relatively simple services that worked together to better protect UK homes and businesses from cyber attack. It was to be made objective and measurable, with specific focus on significantly impacting the return on investment that these techniques offered cyber criminals.

The programme wasn’t aimed at preventing some of the biggest, most sophisticated attacks, however, as these are typically one-offs. Instead, it set out to “protect the majority of the people, from the majority of the harm, from the majority of the attacks, the majority of the time.”

With measurability a key part of ACD, the government has now undertaken a review of the programme, to see just how effective it was at achieving its aims.

In the 69-page report, one the biggest successes came in the form of Web Check, which was rolled out in April 2017. In the 8 months after it was released, Web Check scanned 7,791 unique URLs belonging to public sector websites, to identify any weaknesses. In total it undertook 1,033,250 scans, involving 7,181,464 individual checks. From this, it generated 4,108 advisories to customers, covering a total of 6,218 different issues. Identifying these issues is often the stumbling block for businesses, so with them already detected, businesses can roll out fixes to halt cyber criminals a lot quicker and easier.

The conclusion was that ACD has indeed been a success, with positive (and unvarnished) data to back up the claim. What’s more, the work that’s still to be done has been made more achievable, thanks not only to the measures now in place but what has been learned along the way.

“Each service is having a positive effect already,” the report says, “and we will scale these services up… over the coming months. As the scaling happens, the data generated will allow for more complex analysis and inferences to be drawn from the data with more confidence.”