UK Coalition shores up defence against private sector cyber crime

The government, secret security organisations and businesses across the UK have teamed up to minimise the risk of cyber attacks.

The group has announced “Fusion Cell” which it hopes will highlight where cyber attacks are coming from, following an increased wave of these against government ministries and telecommunications sectors.

The initiative is basically an operations room in London staffed by computer security experts drawn from the intelligence services and private sector.

It will include a giant screen showing where in the UK cyber attacks by foreign states and criminals are centred. Around 10 officers from MI5, GCHQ and MI6, are involved.

Once the information has been gathered it will be passed around to 160 British companies in the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP).

This new way to share information will be launched today by cabinet office Minister Francis Maude who is expected to tell anyone who will listen that “cyber attacks are happening on an industrial scale”.

Maude said that by sharing information and resources, stakeholders can build a better picture of cyber threats and fight a common challenge collectively.

He said the UK would aim to follow the model used in Estonia, where government and businesses work closely together, with the CISP involving 160 big companies.

He will also sympathise with businesses who are the “biggest victims of cyber crime in terms of industrial espionage and intellectual property theft,” as well as pointing out that losses to the UK economy through this crime are “running into the billions of pounds annually”.

The sharing of information follows a pilot scheme codenamed “Protect Auburn”, where in 2012, 80 companies from five sectors of the economy – finance, defence, energy, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals – signed up to share information.

The pilot was was expanded to 160 firms and now a permanent structure is being announced later today. 

However, in a bid to protect privacy and finances the government has said it will only pass on information after a company has given it permission to do so.

The launch of CISP is part of a government programme of cyber defence with funding of £650 million over five years.