Lidington calls on local authorities to step up cyber security

26 Apr 19

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington has urged local authorities and other public sector bodies to improve their cyber security.

The minister also launched a new tool yesterday, which will seek to improve responses to cyber attacks for local government, emergency services and SMEs, during a speech at the annual CyberUK conference in Glasgow.

The free ‘Exercise in a Box’ tool will also provide “bespoke guidance” from the National Cyber Security Council to help organisation “understand better the cyber risks they face”, Lidington said.

“It will be a free online tool, using scenarios based on common cyber security threats to enable organisations both to practice, and to test their responses to attacks in a safe environment,” he added. 

Lidington reminded his audience of the WannaCry attack, which occurred two years ago and affected over 100 countries, and did an “estimated billions of pounds in damage to the global economy”.

The attack hit the NHS hard, disrupting services across one third of hospital trusts in England and around 8% of GP practices leading to more than 19,000 cancelled appointments.

Lidington said: “All of us, including we in government, need to improve our efforts. That’s why last month, I asked all government boards to appoint a representative for cyber security.”

Ciaran Martin, NCSC chief executive, said: “The NCSC considers exercising to be one of the most cost-effective ways an organisation can test how it responds to cyber incidents.

“By practicing your defence and response mechanisms, you can understand how effective they really are and where there are areas for improvement. We’re committed to building the UK’s cyber resilience and continuing our work to make the country the hardest possible target for out adversaries.” 

A Local Government Association spokesperson said: “Councils take cyber security extremely seriously.

“We welcome ‘Exercise in a Box’, designed by the National Cyber Security Centre, as yet another useful set of tools to use to help strengthen councils’ ability to mitigate against cyber-attacks.”

A campaign group found last year that local authorities in England had been hit by 100 million cyberattacks between 2013 and 2017.

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