Infosec big dogs break out the bubbly over UK government's latest cyber strategy emission

See that? That's a promise of fat contracts, that is


Big industry players have praised the latest cybersecurity strategy emitted by the British government, rubbing their hands with glee at its promises of lucrative public contracts for the rest of the 2020s.

The snappily titled Government Cyber Security Strategy, wheeled out yesterday, will set UK domestic cybersecurity strategy for the next eight years. It is a separate document from the National Cyber Strategy.

"The UK's legitimacy and authority as a cyber power is however dependent upon its domestic cyber resilience, the cornerstone of which is government and the public sector organisations that deliver the functions and services which maintain and promote the UK's economy and society," said the strategy, authored by the Cabinet Office.

Its intent is to "significantly harden" public-sector security by 2025, with the whole of British state-owned IT infrastructure "being resilient to known vulnerabilities and attack methods" in eight years from now. Its authors accurately described this as "a bold and ambitious aim", echoing Yes Minister's Sir Humphrey whenever he damned hapless MP Jim Hacker with faint praise by saying "that's a very courageous decision, minister."

Top billing in the strategy was the creation of a new Government Cyber Coordination Centre (GCCC). This "joint venture" plugs the National Cyber Security Centre into other infosec bodies within government: the Central Digital and Data Office and the Government Security Group, the idea being to harmonise security efforts so different parts of government don't end up duplicating each other's efforts. One of its purposes is sharing information about new vulnerabilities so "cross-government risks" can be "identified and managed."

There's also £37m being thrown at local councils to improve their security over the eight-year period, potentially a reference to the dastardly crooks who hacked Hackney Council in 2020.

Most of the strategy document says nothing new to infosec veterans, being concerned with risks, emerging threats, governance, the importance of data, detection and response, and so on; its intended audience seems to be mid-to-senior public-sector managers.

Ker-ching!!!

What's really perked industry up, though, is the strategy's section on "private sector and international partnerships," which said: "Government will therefore continue to develop its partnerships with private sector organisations and academia to enhance its resilience across all aspects of security." Lots of lucrative contracts seem likely in the near future.

Carla Baker, senior director of UK and Ireland government affairs for Palo Alto Networks, was first out of the commentary blocks to say the US-based company is "encouraged by these efforts," adding: "To be truly effective the strategy should move beyond recommendations; there must be a firmer mandate for the strategy to take the widest and deepest root in Government."

We're sure there's a tortured analogy extension lurking there about squirting the weedkiller of infosec on the Japanese knotweed of malware, safeguarding those growing roots of governmental IT.

F-Secure tactical defence unit manager Calvin Gan eagerly rode with the "bold and ambitious" part of the strategy, saying: "Perhaps a first is to relook at the entire estate of public sector systems and identify the current risks that are posed to them. Start identifying the technological debt that has been built up over the years and manage the risks associated with these debts."

Lest this be thought a Sisyphean step too far, Gan reassured world+dog that "it is never too late" to start thinking about spending lots of money with a cybersecurity vendor.

Oz Alashe, CEO of CybSafe and chair of the government's Cyber Resilience Expert Advisory Group, gushed that it was "very encouraging to see the government bring in leading figures from business and academia to help instigate a nationwide culture change in cyber security," while Stuart McKenzie, Mandiant's EMEA veep, called it a "solid first step," saying: "Importantly, the approach also recognises that government partnerships with the private sector and international partners will play an important role in achieving the goal of cyber resilience."

Meanwhile, an astute Jonathan Lee, Sophos's director of UK public sector relations, observed: "This proposed approach will only succeed if there is investment in people to help underpin the strategy including buying in extra threat hunting and incident response management systems."

Government is already planning to do that, albeit not in a way many smaller companies and sole traders might have hoped.

As far as industry's concerned, it appears the new strategy is a massive win; its implicit promise is of lots of contracts, partnerships and cross-pollination between infosec companies and the public sector. Even as sales directors break out the bubbly and shareholders prepare for bigger dividends in years to come, it's worth stating that signs of the British public sector taking infosec seriously, sustained over years, are welcome.

Certainly in the past, security has been treated as an unwelcome and costly afterthought. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Talos names eight deadly sins in widely used industrial software
    Entire swaths of gear relies on vulnerability-laden Open Automation Software (OAS)

    A researcher at Cisco's Talos threat intelligence team found eight vulnerabilities in the Open Automation Software (OAS) platform that, if exploited, could enable a bad actor to access a device and run code on a targeted system.

    The OAS platform is widely used by a range of industrial enterprises, essentially facilitating the transfer of data within an IT environment between hardware and software and playing a central role in organizations' industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) efforts. It touches a range of devices, including PLCs and OPCs and IoT devices, as well as custom applications and APIs, databases and edge systems.

    Companies like Volvo, General Dynamics, JBT Aerotech and wind-turbine maker AES are among the users of the OAS platform.

    Continue reading
  • Despite global uncertainty, $500m hit doesn't rattle Nvidia execs
    CEO acknowledges impact of war, pandemic but says fundamentals ‘are really good’

    Nvidia is expecting a $500 million hit to its global datacenter and consumer business in the second quarter due to COVID lockdowns in China and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Despite those and other macroeconomic concerns, executives are still optimistic about future prospects.

    "The full impact and duration of the war in Ukraine and COVID lockdowns in China is difficult to predict. However, the impact of our technology and our market opportunities remain unchanged," said Jensen Huang, Nvidia's CEO and co-founder, during the company's first-quarter earnings call.

    Those two statements might sound a little contradictory, including to some investors, particularly following the stock selloff yesterday after concerns over Russia and China prompted Nvidia to issue lower-than-expected guidance for second-quarter revenue.

    Continue reading
  • Another AI supercomputer from HPE: Champollion lands in France
    That's the second in a week following similar system in Munich also aimed at researchers

    HPE is lifting the lid on a new AI supercomputer – the second this week – aimed at building and training larger machine learning models to underpin research.

    Based at HPE's Center of Excellence in Grenoble, France, the new supercomputer is to be named Champollion after the French scholar who made advances in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs in the 19th century. It was built in partnership with Nvidia using AMD-based Apollo computer nodes fitted with Nvidia's A100 GPUs.

    Champollion brings together HPC and purpose-built AI technologies to train machine learning models at scale and unlock results faster, HPE said. HPE already provides HPC and AI resources from its Grenoble facilities for customers, and the broader research community to access, and said it plans to provide access to Champollion for scientists and engineers globally to accelerate testing of their AI models and research.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022