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New project aims to improve businesses' IT security in Britain

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September 21, 2016

A new initiative has been announced today with the goal of greatly improving businesses' IT security in Britain.

Dubbed 'The Cyber Highway' the new project was launched in London yesterday by Lord David Blunkett. The initiative will offer a “user-friendly online portal for large enterprises that need to strengthen their cyber defence of their supply chain.”

Businesses of all sizes and various organizations in the United Kingdom will be able to monitor in real-time the progress their vendors are making to acquire the 2014-era 'Cyber Essentials Certification' designation.

Cyber Essentials is a British government program that actually launched in June 2014 and is designed to assist various organizations protect themselves against hackers and malware infections in their enterprise network.

The project is mostly about baseline security controls. Cyber Highway ensures that your suppliers are following the Cyber Essentials requirements of good internet security which is crucial as more and more departments insist on suppliers being Cyber Essentials certified.

To be sure, Lord Blunkett is a former Home Secretary and chairman of Cyber Essentials Direct, the organization behind The Cyber Highway. He asserted-- ``The U.K. Government has made significant progress in this segment. Various government departments now require suppliers bidding for particular contracts to be Cyber Essentials certified``.

``October will see the launch of the National Cyber Security Centre. These are all steps in the right direction but we can and must go further, especially to assist many companies to become certified,`` he added.

Overall, smaller organizations account for about 92 percent of internet attacks, often because of limited resources. The problem of security vulnerabilities in third-party suppliers leading to compromises of the firms they serve has been around for several years already.

Those attacks gained more prominence after broadly reported high-profile security breaches in the media at U.S. retailer Target and a few others were traced back to their refrigeration, heating and air conditioning subcontractors and other various suppliers.

Cyber Essentials Direct chief executive John Lyons said-- “We have spent the last eighteen months designing a practical and helpful approach to help reduce risk and secure otherwise vulnerable supply chains from potential cyber attacks.”

Javvad Malik, an internet security advocate at AlienVault said that Cyber Essentials was helpful in improving baseline security standards.

“There definitely have been several benefits from cyber essentials,” Malik explained. “Many small businesses that were not even aware of internet security needs or requirements have, by way of Cyber Security Essentials, been able to establish a baseline. The better-equipped companies are in terms of security, the better their chances they can detect, prevent and respond to a cyber attack,” Malik said.

“The most important element enterprises should be doing is to know what their assets are, where they are located, and be aware of when they are attacked, compromised, or stolen,” Malik asserted.

Gubi Singh, COO at management threat detection firm Redscan, noted that many businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, are “still complacent” about the risks posed by cyber threats.

“Obtaining accreditation like Cyber Essentials demonstrates to enterprise customers, partners and investors that a company takes the protection of its data seriously, and many businesses are now waking up to the competitive advantages of having effective security controls in place,” Singh asserted.

Companies that gain Cyber Essentials certification through The Cyber Highway will have access to AIG’s CyberEdge range of cyber liability insurance cover at reduced rates.

For its part, Cyber Highway said it was in talks with about three-hundred companies in Britain representing supply chain businesses in the retail and technology sectors about getting onto its platform.

The organizations have also signed up an unnamed High Street bank as a customer. Government suppliers are another potential source of customers.

Malcolm Carrie, industry program director of the Defence Cyber Protection Partnership, said, “Cyber Essentials is the ground level for the Defence supply chain. The Defence Cyber Protection Partnership has layered further controls on top of it to address higher-risk scenarios. Smoothing the path to obtaining Cyber Essentials certification is welcome in the industry.”

Overseas governments are also in talks with Cyber Essentials Direct about implementing the Cyber Essentials program in their own countries.

For instance, CyberNB (Cyber New Brunswick), Canada’s first provincial body to develop a comprehensive internet security strategy is weighing up the benefits of The Cyber Highway.

Source: Britain's Cyber Highway Program.

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