The government recently published its new Cyber Security Strategy specifically aimed at building a cyber resilient public sector. Resilience is key in underpinning its vision to make the UK a cyber power in a world increasingly shaped by technologies that offer many benefits but also pose risks. The strategy reiterates that government remains an attractive target for a broad range of malicious actors with 40% of incidents 2020-21 affecting the public sector.
The main benefits highlighted are the need to protect key UK assets and the uninterrupted continuation of vital services. The strategy also aims to enable the development of skills and capability in cyber awareness and risk management.
This has been a major theme in our work, we recently published our good practice guide, aimed at Audit Committees, on cyber and information security where we set out the type of risk and capability management in relation to cyber security we would expect to see in organisations.
In order to harden government to cyber-attack and build the required resilience in the public sector by 2030, the Cyber Security strategy has two main pillars and five objectives:
|Pillar 1 – Build organisational cyber resilience||Pillar 2 – ‘Defend as one’|
Manage cyber security risk
Protect against cyber attack
Detect cyber security events
Minimise the impact of cyber security incidents
|Objective 5 – Develop the right cyber security skills, knowledge, and culture|
Each objective has a range of outcomes to be achieved in two stages, the first tranche by 2025, and the next by 2030. The government plans to invest £2.6 bn in cyber and legacy IT over the spending review 2021 period and will devise a number of key performance indicators to measure progress.
The strategy is ambitious and welcomed given the increasing threat environment the UK government is facing. In order to succeed, it will need to overcome a range of challenges that we have come across in our work on digital and cyber security. From our point of view, two of the key ones are:
- The public sector will need to overcome known legacy and data issues in a situation where IT assets are not always catalogued or risk assessed; and where data quality varies with expanding and interconnecting supplier systems that increase the likelihood of vulnerabilities
- Cyber risk management with effective escalation and mitigation, in and across departments, will need to be established – whilst also aligning disparate central and arms-length bodies across government to focus on the right things, in the right way at the right time
Our Cyber and information security: Good practice guide addresses these and a number of other challenges. It enables Audit Committees to ask the right questions of organisations to help them start aligning themselves to the new Cyber Security Strategy.