Companies that supply the UK's critical services will be required to adopt robust cyber security measures and to work with government on addressing cyber risks following a summit hosted by business secretary Vince Cable.
Regulators representing the UK's critical services, such as telecoms' Ofcom, the financial sector's Bank of England and representatives from the water, energy and transport sectors, have met with ministers and senior officials from the security and intelligence agencies to agree on a cyber security strategy that will ensure that the UK's infrastructure will be resilient in the face of cyber threats.
Cable said: "Cyber attacks are a serious and growing threat to British businesses, but it is particularly important that those industries providing essential services such as power, telecommunications and banking are adequately protected to avoid disruption to our everyday lives.
"We can only achieve this objective through a partnership between government, the regulators and industry. Today's event marks the next step in highlighting the important role of the Regulators in overseeing the adoption of robust cyber security measures by the companies that supply these crucial services."
The partnership wants to encourage companies to run activities such as the Bank of England's Waking Shark II exercise, which tested the response of the wholesale banking sector to a simulated cyber attack. The Bank of England has published the findings from the exercise conducted in November, today.
"[Waking Shark] is part of the ongoing work recommended by the Financial Policy Committee to improve and test resilience," said Andrew Bailey, deputy governor Prudential Regulation, Bank of England and CEO of the Prudential Regulation Authority, said.
"It is essential for financial stability that the UK financial system and its infrastructure continues to work towards improving its ability to withstand cyber attacks."
During the summit, government and the regulators agreed to undertake certain steps to help manage cyber risk.
As well as carrying out resilience tests, the stakeholders will work to encourage businesses to sign up to share information through the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP), which was launched in March 2013 to enable government and industry to share information on cyber threats in real time. Currently around 300 companies across a range of sectors exchange information via CISP, which is funded by the National Cyber Security programme.
They will also manage cyber risk in their supply chains by driving adoption of the HMG Preferred Organisational Standard for Cyber Security, and assess the cyber security across each sector on an ongoing basis.
The National Cyber Security Strategy was published in November 2011. It is supported by £860 million of funding from the National Cyber Security Programme. The government published the second annual report on progress against the strategy in December 2013, in which it said it plans to impose a 'baseline' level of security competence on its suppliers through a new cyber-security standard that will eventually become mandatory for firms looking to win public contracts.