Large British businesses should look to their cyber defences as the online threat landscape becomes increasing fraught.

This is the message from the government, which is trying to convince large businesses to take part in the third annual free Cyber Governance Health Check.

Free Check

The government drive comes comes just days after the Chancellor George Osborne announced £1.9bn funding for cyber security and a new National Cyber Centre.

This year’s drive was launched by the Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey, speaking at the Intel Security Summit in London.

“With more and more of our daily transactions done online, keeping our personal data safe is a top priority for this Government,” said Vaizey. “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.”

Vaizey reminded the audience about last month’s cyber attack on TalkTalk, and said he wrote to the FTSE 350 companies, reminding them of the steps that Government expects them to take and the robust procedures businesses need to have in place.

Besides 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.

The government feels that the free Cyber Health Check will help firms understand and improve their level of cyber security. Companies taking part will receive a confidential, tailored report that allows them to understand boardroom trends, compare themselves to their peers and address any weaknesses identified. The health check also generates aggregated data, that shows how well the top UK companies are performing.

Last year’s Cyber Governance Health Check uncovered a number of worrying discrepancies.

It found that some of the UK’s most profitable firms were failing to ensure they met proper security standards. It also found that nearly 40 percent of FTSE 350 board members didn’t believe they possessed an ‘acceptable understanding’ of their company’s key information and data assets.

This year’s results will be release in January.

Threat Landscape

Last month the Office for National Statistics’ opted to incorporate cyber crime into official crime statistics. This reclassification meant that cybercrime has officially emerged as the single largest type of offence in the UK.

The certification body hoped the move would drive greater awareness of cybercrime, assist law enforcement agents, and encourage businesses to up their defences.

Recent findings from Hewlett-Packard’s annual Cost of Cyber Crime Study, revealed that British firms are paying a higher price for cyber protection, and also having to endure a longer post-attack recovery period.

That survey found that the cost of cyber crime for UK companies had risen by 14 percent over the past year. Indeed it discovered that the annual cyber crime cost to UK firms is £4.1m per year, whereas last year’s average cost was £3.6m.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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