UK government calls for cyber health checks

The UK government is offering a free virtual health check to companies to help ensure they can defend themselves against cyber attacks on their data – a Cyber Governance Health Check.

The UK’s 350 largest businesses – FTSE 350 firms – are being urged to take part in the free Cyber Health Check to help them understand and improve their level of cyber security. Companies will receive a confidential, tailored report enabling them to understand boardroom trends, compare themselves to their peers and address any weaknesses identified. The health check also generates aggregated data showing how well the top UK companies are performing.

Speaking at the Intel Security Summit in London, Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said, “With more and more of our daily transactions done online, keeping our personal data safe is a top priority for this Government. Our Cyber Health Check will help the UK’s biggest firms strengthen their cyber security and ensure they continue to thrive in our growing digital economy.”

Following last month’s cyber attack on TalkTalk, the Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey promised to write to the FTSE 350, reminding them of the steps that Government expects them to take and the robust procedures businesses need to have in place. Alongside the cyber health check, businesses are being urged to use the Government’s cyber security guidance and adopt the Cyber Essentials scheme, which protects organisations – both large and small – against common threats on the Internet.

This is the third annual Cyber Governance Health Check which has been offered by the Government and the audit community. The Cyber Health Check helps encourage behaviour change in how UK companies manage cyber risks, and helps make sure the risks of cyber attacks are considered not only in IT departments but also at company board level and in audit committees. This health check is part of the Government’s five-year £860m National Cyber Security Programme to protect the UK and make it one of the safest places in the world to do business online.

The 2014 health check data showed good progress being made:

  • 88 per cent of FTSE 350 firms include cyber security in their risk register – up from 58 per cent in 2013; and
  • 58 per cent of firms assess themselves against the Government’s 10 Steps to Cyber Security guidance – up from 40 per cent in 2013.

Results from the 2015 health check will be published in early 2016.