Friday, November 25, 2011

Business to help fight cybercrime

The government says it is planning "unprecedented co-operation" with the private sector to combat cybercrime.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said its Cyber Security Strategy would make the UK "one of the most secure places in the world to do business".

Data sharing between government and business on cyber threats will increase while a new unit within the MoD will look at cyber "military capabilities".

Cyber-attacks are ranked on a par with international terrorism as a threat.

Last year's national security strategy listed hostile computer attacks as one of four "tier-one" threats to the UK and ministers have set aside £650m of new money to better protect key infrastructure and defence assets from "cyber warfare".

The government says there are more than 20,000 malicious emails sent to its networks each month, 1,000 of which are deliberately targeted.

Its updated strategy includes:

  • Joint initiative with five industries - defence, energy, pharmaceutical, telecoms and finance - to share crucial information on cyber threats and to manage the response to attacks.
  • Using the intelligence agency GCHQ's expertise to help the private sector protect itself.
  • All police forces encouraged to follow the lead of the Metropolitan Police and train "cyber specials".
  • A new Defence Cyber Operations Group within the MoD will devise new tactics to counter cyber threats and new military capabilities.
  • Making it easier for companies to report cases of cyberfraud.


Protecting your computer:

  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and turn on your firewall
  • Update your operating system
  • Use up-to-date applications, such as your web browser or word processing package
  • Encrypt your wireless network
  • Block spam emails

Staying safe online:

  • Use strong passwords
  • Do not give away too much personal information on blogs and social networking sites
  • Activate privacy settings on social networking sites
  • Do not open email attachments from people you don't know

Source: Get Safe Online campaign

Individuals will be given more help to protect themselves, amid a warning from GCHQ that 80% of successful attacks could be thwarted by following simple steps like updating anti-virus software regularly.

The strategy suggests "kitemarking" cybersecurity software to help consumers and businesses avoid "scareware" - software which purports to be helpful but is, in fact, malicious.

"Closer partnership between the public and private sectors is crucial. The strategy heralds a new era of unprecedented co-operation between the government and industry on cybersecurity."

The strategy, Mr Maude added, "sets out how we will realise the full benefits of a networked world by building a more trusted and resilient digital environment, from protecting the public from online fraud to securing the critical infrastructure against cyber attacks."

Information sharing

The UK generates 6% of its economic output from the internet, a figure which is expected to grow.

The BBC's security correspondent Gordon Corera said having more public services being delivered online increased vulnerabilities and ministers were looking to "pull together" all the steps needed - ranging from better "cyber hygiene" by individuals to potential development of offensive cyber-military technology.

One internet security expert said the strategy must recognise that threats are constantly evolving and personal and commercial information was increasingly being stolen to be sold on or used maliciously.

Ilias Chantzos, a senior director at Symantec, said having public-private partnerships was important - particularly for "critical infrastructure" industries. He said "timely sharing" of information would help ensure everyone was better prepared against cyber attacks.

Earlier this month, Iain Lobban, the head of GCHQ, told a cyber security conference in London that a "significant" attempt was made to target the computer systems of the Foreign Office and other government departments over the summer.

Baroness Neville-Jones, the PM's special representative to business on cybersecurity, said Russia and China - who both attended the conference - were some of the worst culprits involved in cyber-attacks.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has said businesses and individuals must be aware of the risk of cyber-attacks as they could become a major threat to the country's economic welfare and its national infrastructure, such as electricity grids.

Source: BBC Tech News

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