Government unveils interim cyber security strategy to tackle emerging cyber risks

The government has launched an interim cyber security science and technology strategy which will help it measure it’s understanding of cyber security science and whether it is sufficiently responding to the latest technology developments.

The government believes the interim cyber security science and technology strategy will help it create adequate policies to address emerging cyber threats.

In a press release, the Cabinet Office said that the purpose of the interim cyber security science and technology strategy is to identify technology developments that will have most impact on cyber security, develop the government’s policy response and the expertise base in government, academia and industry, and to assess whether the government is sufficiently responding to cyber security science and technology developments.

The interim strategy will ultimately pave the way for the government’s ambitious Cyber Security Science and Technology Strategy, but before that, it will help the government ensure that there will be a single authoritative voice that will assess the sufficiency of the UK’s national cyber capability and identify significant developments that require a policy response.

At the same time, the interim strategy will help the government put in place the production of a Research and Development Strategy and to establish a framework to enable the publication of NCSC cyber security horizon scanning.

The interim strategy, if successful, will also help the government ensure public awareness of cyber security, create secure and trusted systems to address emerging cyber risks, and to address the existing cyber security skills gap to keep the country safe from cyber threats in the future.

‘Machine-learning techniques and AI will analyse the data flowing across networks at scale to spot anomalies and threats, and will respond automatically within a fraction of a second to protect networks before damage is done.

‘Improved understanding of human-computer interaction will ensure that cyber security experts monitoring networks are presented with information they need in the most effective way to make the right decisions,’ the Cabinet Office added.

Considering how healthcare organisations, particularly the NHS, have recently faced the brunt of malware and ransomware attacks and have also suffered multiple instances of data breach, the government believes that new technology developments like eliminating the need for manual data entry, reducing the human factor, and improved workflow efficiency need to be balanced with an equal emphasis on cyber security.

‘The potential for new technologies to transform the delivery of care must be balanced with the need to ensure digital products are safe, ethical, carry the trust of those who use them and are not introducing new cyber vulnerabilities which could affect essential services,’ it said.

Rob Bolton, Director and GM, Western Europe at Infoblox, told TEISS that a survey conducted by his firm revealed how poor security practices and old and unpatched medical devices at healthcare organisations are posing a significant threat to hospital networks.

‘Nearly one in five healthcare IT professionals reported that medical devices on the network are currently running on Windows XP – which is no longer supported by Microsoft, thereby introducing potential vulnerabilities – while 7% couldn’t even identify what system their medical devices are running on, meaning that they are unable to patch them. This poses a significant threat to hospital networks, with underlying security flaws leaving them open to cyberattacks.

‘To that end, we celebrate that the Department of Health, NHS Digital and Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency are working to produce guidelines on the steps that healthcare organisations should take – from development to adoption – to ensure that connected medical devices are safe,’ he added.

Raj Samani, Chief Scientist and Fellow at McAfee, believes that the new Interim National Cyber Science and Technology Strategy will help the Government invest in the development and adoption of emerging technologies to bring British industry to the fore of these new markets and support productivity growth across various sectors.

Samani said that the interim strategy will also help in building and supporting a strong cyber security sector which will in turn help both security and economic growth.

‘While emerging technologies present significant opportunity, when the development, roll-out and management is not secure by design, the risks can quickly outweigh the benefits,’ he added.