The 2017 ISPA Awards Hero and Villain shortlist, unveiled today, shows that it has once again been quite a year for the Internet industry. From high profile cyber-attacks to broadband rollout and online censorship, the hero and villain shortlist shines a light on the highs and lows of the last 12 months.

As ever, the nominations are informed by public submissions, with a final shortlist determined by the ISPA Council. Here at ISPA we’re that delighted so many involved in keeping the UK connected will be joining us the 19th UK Internet Industry Awards next Thursday on July 13th to see who is crowned across 17 categories.

Cyber Security

The past 12 months saw regular high profile cyber-attacks and the internet hero and villain nominations this year certainly reflect this. The National Cyber Security Centre receive a hero nomination for boosting Government’s cyber security capabilities, while the Wannacry hack is represented on both sides, with Marcus Hutchins – the Wannacry killswitch finder – nominated as hero, and the Wannacry hackers themselves in the villain category.


As usual, broadband features prominently in the shortlist and this year is no exception, with a hero nomination for Mark Jackson, editor of ISPreview, the long running industry and consumer broadband guide, and a nod for the villainous Valuation Office Agency for adding to the cost of broadband rollout with their excessive business rates revaluation.

Online censorship

In what has been another unfortunate year of internet censorship, Turkey’s President Erdogan has been nominated for closing down parts of the Internet, while the Russian Government’s threatened ban of encrypted messaging apps also makes the shortlist. On the more positive front, the Global Network Initiative’s project on the economic and social impact and harm of internet censorship is recognised in the hero category.

ISPA Secretary General Nicholas Lansman announced the shortlist, commenting that:

“The Internet Hero and Villain awards are a fun and light-hearted way of recognising the great and good (and the not so good) in the Internet Industry. With Brexit looming, the UK’s thriving digital economy has never been more important, which is why we at ISPA are so pleased to recognise those who enable and drive the UK’s digital economy. The rather less coveted “Internet Villain” award is also a valuable opportunity to look at those who hinder this vital industry. We at ISPA look forward to finding out who will win on the evening of July 13th”.

The 2017 Hero Shortlist

  • Marcus Hutchins, @MalwareTechBlog – for finding the WannaCry killswitch, shining a light on the tech community’s fight against cyber crime
  • Mark Jackson, the editor of ISP Review – for providing a helpful, user-friendly guide to the ISP market for the last 18 years for consumers and industry alike
  • National Cyber Security Centre – for stepping up Government’s cyber security capabilities
  • Global Network Initiative & Access Now - for an international campaign highlighting the huge economic cost and social impact of internet shutdowns around the world

The 2017 Villain Shortlist

  • WannaCry hackers – for the ransomware attack that hit a fifth of NHS trusts
  • Treasury and the Valuation Office Agency – for adding to the cost of broadband rollout with its excessive business rates revaluation
  • Russia's communications regulator – for threatening to ban encrypted messaging apps
  • President Erdogan – for cracking down on online freedom of expression, including blocking Wikipedia and social media

The ISPA Awards take place on 13th July 2017 at Café de Paris, London. Tickets and event details are available here. We don’t just recognise heroes and villains; our full list of nominees for other awards across 15 categories - from the Security Award, to Best Superfast Broadband – are available here.

For more information, go to