Lord Blunkett launches online cyber-essentials portal

Ex-home secretary Lord Blunkett has today launched the Cyber Highway, an online portal to manage Cyber-Essentials certification.

Lord David Blunkett
Lord David Blunkett

Today sees the launch of The Cyber Highway,  which offers an online portal for companies that want to strengthen the cyber-defence of their supply chain, and improve their cyber-resilience.

Companies will be empowered to take control online of the Cyber-Essentials certification process, enabling them to make improvements to the safety and security of their digital assets.  

Enterprise companies will have the ability to monitor, in real-time, the progress that their suppliers are making, en route to Cyber-Essentials certification.

Cyber Essentials is a UK Government scheme, supported by industry, to help organisations protect themselves against the most common cyber-attacks. It was developed as part of the UK's National Cyber Security Programme, with the full scheme launched in June 2014.

Lord David Blunkett, former Home Secretary and chairman of Cyber Essentials Direct Ltd, the team behind The Cyber Highway, said: “The UK Government has made significant progress. Government departments now require suppliers bidding for particular contracts to be Cyber-Essentials certified and next month sees the launch of the National Cyber Security Centre. These are all steps in the right direction but we can and must go further, especially to assist many more companies to become certified.”

Cyber-security breaches have cost UK businesses £34.1bn in the last year, whilst small organisations account for 92 percent of cyber-attacks, often because of limited resources, highlighting the need for strengthened supply chains.

Lord Blunkett believes that following Brexit, the UK needs to actively maintain its position as a world-leader in cyber-security. He said: “Our partners and potential partners around the world should have complete confidence that we are taking all possible steps to ensure we are securing our economy as the place to do business. Positive differentiation in the UK will be positive for us and UK plc.

“It is more important than ever, post-Brexit, for businesses to hold an internationally-accepted certification, as competition increases and an extra level of cyber-resilience is required.

“That is why taking steps to secure our supply chain is critical. Critical economically, essential in terms of protecting the national infrastructure of the country, as well as the protection of our own personal data and information.”

The Cyber Highway helps defend the infrastructure of businesses with which larger enterprise companies trade, by helping to defeat up to 80 percent of common online threats. It is the only solution that can handle large numbers of companies looking to achieve Cyber-Essentials certification simultaneously, cost-effectively and with minimal external intervention.

CEO John Lyons said: “We have spent the last eighteen months designing a practical and helpful approach to help de-risk and secure otherwise vulnerable supply chains from cyber-attack.

“As The Cyber Highway is built around internationally recognised UK Government and GCHQ standards, enterprise companies have the confidence that the robustness of the cyber-security in their supply chain is something they can trust.  Furthermore, protective measures like this will help secure the critical national infrastructure.”

Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault told SCMagazineUK.com:“There definitely has been benefits from cyber-essentials. Many small businesses that were not even aware of security needs or requirements have, by way of cyber-security essentials been able to establish a baseline. The better-equipped and aware of security needs companies are, the better the chance they can spot, prevent, and respond to a cyber-attack. However, we may not see a visible reduction in the amount of data breaches immediately. The process needs time to distil through organisations. During this time, it is likely that attackers will change their tactics - but overall the security bar will be raised. The most important thing enterprises should be doing is know what their assets are, where they are located, and be aware of when it is attacked, compromised, or stolen. Unfortunately, today, most organisations don't even know they've been breached until many months later when it's published in the papers. Putting Brexit aside, the UK has a tremendous reliance on cyber systems for all aspects from national infrastructure, to finance, to commerce, etc. Therefore, cyber-security is a topic that needs to be taken seriously. The challenge in achieving this is much larger than the scope of one scheme - but this does contribute towards that overall vision and goal.”