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Keeping the UK safe in cyberspace

Jun 16, 2014
Time was when the only person using a computer in most companies worked in the accounts department. How things have changed. The miracle of the Internet has revolutionised the way we run our businesses and for anyone under the age of 30, working without IT is unimaginable.

But for all its benefits the Internet may well be the invention that eventually destroys us. World War III may not be fought on the ground but in cyberspace.

The Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance, the UK government department that oversees cyber security, recently released the following statement.

The growth of the Internet has transformed our everyday lives and is an important part of our economy. The Internet-related market in the UK is now estimated to be worth £82 billion a year while British businesses earn £1 in every £5 from the Internet.

But with greater openness, interconnection and dependency comes greater vulnerability. The National Security Strategy categorised cyber attacks as a Tier One threat to our national security, alongside international terrorism. The threat to our national security from cyber attacks is real and growing. Terrorists, rogue states and cyber criminals are among those targeting computer systems in the UK.

93% of large corporations and 87% of small businesses reported a cyber breach in the past year. On average over 33,000 malicious e-mails are blocked at the Gateway to the Government Secure Intranet (GSI) every month. These are likely to contain - or link to - sophisticated malware. A far greater number of malicious, but less sophisticated e-mails and spam are blocked each month.

With the cost for a cyber-security breach estimated between £450,000 to £850,000 for large businesses and £35,000 to £65,000 for smaller ones, the government must look at new ways to protect businesses and make the UK more resilient to cyber attacks and crime.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review allocated £650 million over four years to establish a new National Cyber Security Programme to strengthen the UK’s cyber capacity. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced an extra £210 million investment after the 2013 spending review.

To combat cyber threats, the UK government is working with Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to identify and analyse cyber attacks to main networks and services and support the UK’s wider cyber security objectives.  The government committed to:

  • set up a National Cyber Crime Unit within the National Crime Agency in 2013, bringing together the Police eCrime Unit and SOCA;
  • provide cyber security advice to businesses such as the 10 Steps to Cyber Security Booklet and tailored guidance for small businesses;
  • build a Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership with businesses to allow the government and industry to exchange information on cyber threats in a trusted environment;
  • reach agreement with industry on a series of guiding principles for Internet service providers, setting out a best practice approach to help inform, educate and protect customers from online threats;
  • develop a preferred organisational standard for cyber security, to give industry a clear baseline to aim for in addressing cyber security risks to their companies;
  • introduce a single reporting system for people to report financially motivated cyber crime through Action Fraud, the UK’s national 24/7 fraud and Internet crime reporting centre.  Recording incidents of fraud centrally enables intelligence being gathered about crimes to be shared and analysed, resulting in more targeted enforcement action.

Government is supporting the growth of the UK cyber security industry by:

  • creating a joint ‘Cyber Growth Partnership’ with technology industry representatives techUK (formerly Intellect);
  • publishing a Cyber Exports Strategy (pdf) to set out the scope of opportunities and actions;
  • developing a new Cyber Security Suppliers’ scheme for businesses that supply cyber security products and services to the UK government;
  • setting a target for future export growth.

To make the UK more resilient to cyber attacks the government has:

  • established CERT-UK on 31 March, 2014, a new organisation to improve co-ordination of national cyber incidents and share technical information between countries;
  • set up a new Cyber Incident Response scheme in GCHQ to help organisations recover from a cyber security attack;
  • extended the role of the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) to work with all organisations that may have a role in protecting the UK’s critical systems and intellectual property;
  • agreed with regulators in essential services a set of actions to make sure that important data and systems in our critical national infrastructure continue to be safe and resilient.

To cultivate a safe, stable and vibrant cyberspace internationally government will:

  • work with other countries to identify and manage cyber risks and develop principles to guide the behaviour of governments and others in cyberspace;
  • continue the global conversation on the future of the Internet and establishing norms of behaviour in cyberspace.

To develop the knowledge, skills and capabilities needed to defend the UK against cyber crime the government will:

  • provide cyber security advice for business and the public;
  • work to improve cyber skills, education and professional opportunities;
  • challenge the UK public to find ways of defending the government from cyber attacks as part of the Cyber Security Challenge UK competition, sponsored by the National Cyber Security Programme.

The Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance (OCSIA) coordinates the work carried out under the National Cyber Security Programme and works with government departments and agencies such as the Home Office, Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to implement the cyber security programme.

The full document can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/keeping-the-uk-safe-in-cyberspace.

 

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