Government launches public/private cyber security hub

By Stuart Sumner
25 Nov 2011 View Comments
Houses of Parliament

The government has announced a new joint public/private sector cyber security hub. The hub is designed to allow it to exchange information on cyber threats with the private sector, and manage the response to cyber attacks.

This launch comes as part of the government's new Cyber Security Strategy, released this morning.

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Commenting on the release, prime minister David Cameron said: "Cyber security is a top priority for government and we will continue to work closely with the police, security services, international partners and the private sector to ensure that the UK remains one of the most secure places in the world to do business."

Minister for cyber security Francis Maude explained that cooperation with the private sector is essential for the strategy to work.

"Closer partnership between the public and private sector is crucial. The strategy heralds a new era of unprecedented cooperation between the government and industry on cyber security," he said.

This hub is not the only measure designed to improve ties between the private and public sectors in this area.

The government also said that it is currently exploring ways in which cyber security expertise in its listening agency GCHQ can support commercial UK security organisations.

This emphasis on collaboration with the private sector sees widespread agreement in the business community. Martin Sutherland, managing director of security specialists and government contractor BAE Systems Detica, said that the strategy shows how important the private sector is in protecting the UK from cyber threats.

"[UK] private sector companies are on the front line, facing increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks against our common interests," he said.

"With the strategy very much aligning the country's economic prosperity with national security, the key to success will be ensuring that private companies see it as beneficial to their business to work in partnership with government."

However, Sutherland questioned whether the private sector will provide advice or services to this initiative freely.

"The question is whether they will do this voluntarily, or whether the government will need to provide some incentive for this to happen," he said.

He added that with cyber attacks now so prevalent, decisive action needs to be taken to protect the economy.

"No one should underestimate either the scale of the ambition or the complexities [the strategy] raises. Things now need to happen quickly – this is not a theoretical debate. Cyber attacks are occurring on a daily basis and the impact is very real," he concluded.

Other intentions laid out in the strategy are:

  • At least 25 per cent of the value of government cyber security contracts must go to SMEs;
  • The Department for Business Innovation and Skills will work with domestic and global standards organisations to help develop cyber security standards for UK companies;
  • UK Trade and Investment will work with the security sector's trade associations to help UK firms sell abroad;
  • Encouragin all police forces to make use of specialist cyber enforcement officers to help tackle cyber crime as part of the NCA (National Crime Authority) cyber crime unit;
  • Creating a cyber crime unit within the NCA by 2013, helping to deal with the most serious national-level cyber crime and being part of the response to major national incidents;
  • Making it easier to report financially motivated cyber crime by establishing a single reporting system for businesses and the public;
  • Creating a new Defence Cyber Operations Group in the MOD, which will develop new tactics, techniques and plans to deliver military cyber capabilities;
  • Increasing the reach of the Centre for Protection of the National Infrastructure to help companies not ordinarily considered part of the critical infrastructure, but which represent an important part of the economy.

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