Press release

Business leaders urged to step up response to cyber threats

Currently, too few company chief executives and chairs take a direct interest in protecting their businesses from cyber threats.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Currently, too few company chief executives and chairs take a direct interest in protecting their businesses from cyber threats.

So now, for the first time, the government and intelligence agencies are directly targeting the most senior levels in the UK’s largest companies and providing them with advice on how to safeguard their most valuable assets, such as personal data, online services and intellectual property.

Today, the government is launching Cyber Security Guidance for Business at an event attended by FTSE 100 CEOs and Chairs, Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Foreign Office, Cabinet Office, Home Office and senior figures from the intelligence agencies.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

Cyber security threats pose a real and significant risk to UK business by targeting valuable assets such as data and intellectual property. By properly protecting themselves against attacks companies are protecting their bottom line.

Ensuring this happens should be the responsibility of any chief executive or chair as part of an approach to good corporate governance which secures a business for the long-term.

Foreign Secretary William Hague, as Minister responsible for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), said:

The UK is committed to building a secure, resilient, open and trusted internet. We are working with partners across the globe to ensure this vision becomes a reality.

A networked world brings many advantages. But cyberspace - and cybercrime - knows no borders. Businesses must be alert to the dangers. Drawing on GCHQ’s experience and working with industry the Government is committed to helping reduce vulnerability to attacks and ensure that the UK is the safest place in the world to do business.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

Cyber crime is a serious problem which affects businesses of all sizes and can have devastating consequences.

That is why we have funded the expansion of the Police Central e-Crime Unit in the Metropolitan Police and SOCA’s Cyber Unit, and established three regional cyber specialist hubs to help combat the threat. We will build on this by introducing a dedicated cyber crime unit in the new National Crime Agency.

The new guidance, produced by the CESG (the Information Security arm of GCHQ), BIS and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), will help the private sector minimise the risks to company assets.

The guidance builds on a key objective within the government’s Cyber Security Strategy to work hand in hand with industry and make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do online business.

Cyber Security Guidance for Business consists of three products:

  • The first product is aimed at senior executives. It offers some high level questions which we believe will assist and support them to determine their critical information assets, support them in their strategic level risk discussions and help them ensure that they have the right safeguards and cultures in place

  • The second product is an Executive Companion which discusses how Cyber Security is one of the biggest challenges that business and the wider UK economy face today. It offers guidance for business on how together we can make the UK’s networks more resilient and protect key information assets against cyber threats. The document focuses around key points of risk management and corporate governance and includes some anonymous case studies based on real events

  • The third product supports the Executive Companion and provides more detailed cyber security information and advice for 10 critical areas (covering both technical and process/cultural areas). If implemented as a set it can substantially reduce the cyber risk by helping to prevent or deter the majority of types of attacks. For each of these 10 areas, we have summarised the issue, outlined the potential risks and provided some practical measures and advice to reduce these risks. The material integrates the “Top 20 Critical Controls for Effective Cyber Defence” as endorsed by CPNI. These controls provide further detailed guidance.

Notes to editors

1.Copies of Cyber Security Guidance for Business are available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cyber-risk-management-a-board-level-responsibility.

2.The UK Cyber Security Strategy can be viewed at the following link: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/cyber-security-strategy.

3.The guidance builds on comments by the Foreign Secretary at the end of the London Conference for Cyberspace (2nd November 2011), in which he emphasised that cyberspace must be secure and reliable so that it is trusted for online business, and that innovators are confident that their discoveries will be appropriately protected. Another theme was the importance of government and industry taking a shared responsibility towards the prevention of cyber crime: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=Speech&id=685672482.

4.The guidance also builds on comments made by Minister of State, David Willetts in an interview to Business Technology, following the selection of eight UK universities as Centres of Excellence to counter cyber attacks (8 April 2012). In this article he emphasised the need for Government and industry to work together to handle the wide range of cyber security threats: http://biztechreport.co.uk/2012/04/getting-serious-about-security/.

5.In a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies on 12 October 2010, **Director GCHQ, Iain Lobban, discussed how getting cyber right **enables the UK’s continuing economic prosperity. He also commented on the expertise that GCHQ can offer to help shape the UK’s response to the cyber security threat: http://www.gchq.gov.uk/Press/Pages/IISS-CyberSpeech.aspx.

6.For more advice on Cyber Security In the first instance businesses should approach their own professional services provider. If required, Cyber Security Guidance for Business provides a BIS email box for referrals. Further detailed advice on cyber security (as well as physical and personnel measures) is available via the CPNI website **http://www.cpni.gov.uk/advice/infosec/Critical-controls/.

7.The Budapest Conference - following on from the London Conference on Cyberspace in November 2011 - will be held in October 2012 and will further develop the key issues around the secure use of cyberspace that were identified in London.

8.GCHQ press office can be contacted on pressoffice@gchq.gsi.gov.uk or 01242 221491 extension 33847.

9.Cyber security statistics:

  • 2 billion internet users world wide
  • The internet accounts for 3.4 per cent of GDP in the top 13 ‘cyber-mature’ countries
  • The internet also accounts for 21 per cent of GDP growth in the last 5 years in mature countries
  • The internet provides 2.6 jobs created for 1 job lost
  • 75 per cent of Internet impact arises from traditional industries
  • 10 per cent increase in productivity for small and medium businesses from internet usage
  • Small and medium businesses heavily using web technologies grow and export as twice much as others.

10.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.’ It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

  • To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 5 September 2012