UK cyber security centre promises to boost local government focus

Written by Rebecca Hill on 19 October 2016 in News
News

The National Cyber Security Centre has committed to improving collaboration with councils and producing better guidance for local government.

Alison Whitney speaking at the Socitm annual conference in Milton Keynes yesterday - Photo credit: Rebecca Hill

Alison Whitney, the deputy director of digital services at the NCSC, yesterday acknowledged that until now cyber security work the government’s work on cyber security has focused on central government.

Addressing the Socitm annual conference for local government digital leaders in Milton Keynes, Whitney said that guidance was often written with Whitehall in mind and was not always accessible for other parts of government.

However, she said that the new centre – which was officially opened at the start of the month and aims to bring all aspects of government cyber security together – was trying to address this.


Related content

National Cyber Security Centre to publish rankings for departmental email security
Earning public trust in the age of cyber threats


Whitney said that it was “really important” that the NCSC understands what local government needs, and that work was already being done to identify the pinch points for councils.

She said that the initial challenge was deciding where to start, noting that the NCSC had limited resources for the work and that it would not have been possible to develop one-to-one relationships with each local authority.

“We needed to look at how to maximise the impact we could have,” she said.

After a period of consultation and discussion, Whitney said the centre had decided to focus its work on local government associations, such as Socitm, the Society for Local Authority Chief Executives and the Local Government Association.

The centre’s staff – most of whom have been drawn from other government agencies – have also held a number of regional briefings over the past year with the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Whitney said this had helped the NCSC understand more about where it can improve its offering for local government.

Work will include further regional briefings with DCLG, more work with a major focus being on the guidance the centre will offer on cyber security.

“[Existing] guidance was nearly always written with central government in mind,” Whitney said. “We are trying to make it less obviously focused on central government users and offer more case studies about local government and other sectors.”

For instance, she said, they had this week published guidance on ransomware – a subject they “probably wouldn’t have touched” previously – because it has such a big effect on local government and the healthcare service.

“We went through and reviewed guidance to make it user agnostic,” Whitney said. “IT is IT is IT; in many instances, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re doing.”

Her comments are likely to go some way towards allaying concern that the NCSC was not engaging with local government enough and could end up letting it be the “weak link” in public sector cyber security.

Indeed, participants generally welcomed the NCSC’s efforts to engage with local government – especially on providing more relevant guidance – to date.

Whitney agreed, though, that more work was needed. “We realise we’ve only skimmed the surface of [understanding the problems local government faces], and need to do some further deep dives,” she said.

Share this page

Tags

Categories

Add new comment

Related Articles

West Yorkshire Police to roll out mobile scanners for on-the-spot fingerprint checks
13 February 2018

Devices are designed to check against national criminal and immigration databases and return results in under a minute

Regulator urges government to mandate NHS compliance with surveillance camera code
17 January 2018

Commissioner Tony Porter tells PublicTechnology about continued efforts to get the Home Office to recognise the need for a surveillance camera code of practice that applies to NHS and...

Related Sponsored Articles

Who keeps your organisation secure?
19 February 2018

BT's Amy Lemberger argues that having the right security in place to protect your organisation is no longer just an option. It is a necessity.

WATCH: Digital transformation - the key to success or a security risk too far?
13 February 2018

BT brought together some their top security experts and CIOs from well known UK organisations to discuss digital transformation and the impact that it’s having on organisations