At-a-glance alert statuses

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A cyber-security warning website has launched at-a-glance alert statuses after recent attacks. The Security Wizardry Radar Page is a free resource invented by British cyber security man Andy Cuff, pictured. It is updated constantly with the latest cyber threats and is used by governments and businesses.

Andy, whose Bath-based company Computer Network Defence (CND) has a global team, wanted to add a simple method of cyber alerts. They were devised so those within the cyber industry could see more quickly what the situation was and also to help those unfamiliar with cyber terms. The radar page – which also has an app for smartphones – now has alert statuses for general cyber safety and ones specifically for ransomware attacks. The statuses are ‘guarded’, ‘increased’, ‘high’ and ‘critical’ and are marked with the colours blue, yellow, orange and red.

The ‘civilian’ interpretations of the alert levels are: ‘chillax’, ‘keep calm and carry on’, ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ and ‘OMG’. There are also military ones. Andy, a former UK military man himself, who created the website on his kitchen table a decade ago, never thought it would become the go-to resource for cyber information and receive 40,000 hits an hour. Indeed, he was taken aback when he was watching a news item about the United States’s National Security Agency (NSA) and saw his website in the background on a huge screen while the US President was being shown around.

Andy said: “The information is added to the radar page in real time, but we wanted a way of showing alert levels in an easy, at-a-glance way. We based them on existing alert codes so they will be familiar to some.

“Those who work in industry, in the military or government often have the page on a big screen on the wall where they can view the status levels easily and instantly. It also allows those in IT or who run businesses or organisations to have an idea of whether they need to act on any threat or to take advice.

“Our app is also becoming very popular and with notifications turned on users will be told when an alert level changes. For example, when the cyber-attack that started in Ukraine began to gather momentum we upgraded to a ‘high’ level of alert.

“Our analysts, who work here, in the US and at our centre of the Isle of Man make the judgement based on the information as it comes in. It really is important to act quickly when there is a threat. Hackers can steal data, demand ransoms and even destroy a business. And because they can do it from anywhere in the world and often with the backing of a state they feel invincible. The radar page and new alert statuses give a valuable warning about cyber threats, which are not going to go away. With these alerts, anyone can stay informed about cyber threat levels and are able to act accordingly.”