UK government now scans all internet-connected devices to assess vulnerabilities

Anyone can apply for exemptions

Parliament may be a circus, but the UK government isn’t all incompetent hands – except for those who thought it would be a good idea to store COVID-19 case data in Excel spreadsheets (it’s true, look up). That should provide a sense of reassurance or fear, depending on what the given objectives are. Consider the National Cyber ​​Security Center: It just launched a program that systematically scans every internet-connected device in the country as an information-gathering method to investigate current hacking threats and security preparedness.


The NCSC — which falls under the purview of the UK’s larger intelligence agency, GCHQ — launched its scanning program (via BleepingComputer) early this month. It involves making connection requests to servers and individual devices and recording all responses received, along with the date, time and the IP addresses involved. The Center then analyzes the responses to see if any reported software versions match the versions it has registered with reported vulnerabilities. The idea is to take snapshots of how prepared the UK is for potential attacks with frequent scans.

Ian Levy, the outgoing technical director of the NCSC, wrote in a blog post that the scans are similar to those of private cybersecurity companies. He also said he expects scans to become more complex over time and the agency will have more to report at the CYBERUK conference in April. The Center has published the IP addresses and associated domain from which the scans will come:;, and; Clients see HTTPS requests tagged with an identifying header. Anyone can email the agency at [email protected] to request that certain IP addresses be exempted from scanning.