GCHQ launches clean-up services for victims of cyber-attacks

The government has come under hefty criticism lately for not getting to grips with cyber-crime

Two schemes that provide response and clean-up services to any business or organisation that may suffer from a cyber-attack have been launched today by CESG, the information security arm of GCHQ.

CESG is working with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), in collaboration with the Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (CREST), the professional body representing the technical security industry.

The Cyber Incident Response schemes follow on from a pilot conducted by CESG and CPNI, which began in November 2012 and saw companies help resolve cyber incidents across government, academia and industry.

MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee recently claimed that the UK is losing the war on online criminal activity and said that the government is too complacent in targeting cyber criminals. It has also been criticised for its vague response to some of the questions posed by January's Defence Select Committee report on cyber-security.

However, GCHQ believes that providing greater resilience to Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) companies, as well as organisations in the public and private sector, can be best met by adopting a "complimentary twin track approach" for certified Cyber Incident Response services.

The first service will be a broad scheme led by CREST and endorsed by GCHQ and CPNI, which will focus on appropriate standards for incident response aligned to demand from all sectors of industry, the wider public sector and academia.

Whilst, a second "small and focused" government-run Cyber Incident Response scheme certified by GCHQ and CPNI will respond to sophisticated, targeted attacks against networks of national significance.

The security bodies involved claim that this approach will enable any organisation that is a victim of cyber-attack to source an appropriate incident response service tailored to their needs, whilst also allowing GCHQ and CPNI to focus on the most challenging attacks.

"We know that UK organisations are confronted with cyber threats that are growing in number and sophistication. The best defence for organisations is to have processes and measures in place to prevent attacks getting through, but we also have to recognise that there will be times when attacks do penetrate our systems and organisations want to know who they can reliably turn to for help," said Chlo Smith, Minister for Cyber Security.

"I am delighted to announce a unique Government-Industry partnership to tackle the effects of cyber incidents."

She added: "This scheme and others like it, together with the '10 Steps to Cyber Security' guidance for business launched last year, are an important part of our effort to provide assistance to industry and government in order to protect UK interests in cyberspace."

In other news, the City of London's Police Commissioner, Adrian Leppard, has been laughed at by cyber-security experts after writing an open letter to The Times this week, in which he refused to accept that police forces across the UK are struggling to get to grips with this new breed of cyber-criminals.

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