Web Security Is A Boardroom Issue, Security Chiefs Advise

Business leaders in the UK have been urged to address the security of their information management systems in order to tackle the rising problem of cyber threats.

According to a joint statement, issued by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the issue of safeguarding data should be managed at a board level.  Vince Cable, Business Secretary said that he thought cyber security threats posed a significant risk to businesses in Britain by targeting assets of value, such as intellectual property.  Launching the programme he continued to say that by properly protecting their IT systems companies would protect their financial positions.

Cyber Security

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This is the first time that the government and intelligence agencies have directly targeted the most senior levels in the UK’s largest companies.

The government intends to offer advice to company boards, their chairpersons and Chief Executive Officers, and provide them with advice on a range of information management security threats.   The guidance has been produced by the Information Assurance arm of GCHQ and builds on comments made by the William Hague, Foreign Secretary, at the London Conference for Cyberspace, last year.  Hague had said that the considered that a networked world brought plenty of advantages, but that cybercrime knew no borders, so businesses ought to have an awareness of the potential problems of e-commerce.  He said that the government would draw on the experience of industry and the security services to reduce the susceptibility of attacks and to make sure that Britain led the way as the safest place in the world for on line data.

The guidance has been split into three different documents, the first of which is aimed at senior executives.  According to BIS, it asks some high level questions which are designed to help support managers to understand what their critical information assets are and to promote the right data handling cultures and safeguards at a boardroom level.  The second document is a companion to the first, focusing on the area of corporate governance and risk management, including some case studies drawn from events that have a basis in reality.

According to BIS, it addresses how cyber security has become one of the most important challenges that businesses face in today’s economy.  The third document covered by the government programme deals with ten critical areas of information security that business sought to be facing up to, including IT processes and staff handling of confidential data.

According to the ministers involved, the putting into effect the advice can substantially reduce firm’s exposure to problems by helping them to overcome the majority of internet attacks, or deter them in the first place.

Home Secretary Theresa May added her voice to the calls for more board level focus on the issue. She said that cybercrime can have catastrophic results and is a problem that affects businesses of all sizes. She continued to say that the government have established a number of regional cyber specialist hubs and funded an increase in the capacity of the Police Central e-Crime Unit, based at Scotland Yard. She added that the Home Office would build on these measures, within the new National Crime Agency, by forming a dedicated unit to address cybercrime.

Earlier this year, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts had been reported as saying that more government focus needed to be put into small and medium sized enterprises’ information management.

“What I don’t want is a veil of silence,” he said, “in which everyone pretends that they don’t have a problem and that everything is perfect when it isn’t”

According to government data, web based commerce makes up about one fifth of gross domestic product growth, in economies of a mature nature, so taking information threats seriously is a must for a prosperous future.

Launching the programme, Cable added that he considered taking safeguards seriously should be the responsibility of any chairman or CEO within their approach to corporate governance in order to secure their businesses over the time.

Nathan Morgan has been an IT professional for 14 years.

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