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The Information Security Specialists

Governance & Compliance

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27
May 14

Government cyber security kitemark for business

Companies that want to do business with the government will have to be vetted to meet a rigorous new cyber security kitemark, the Cabinet Office has announced.

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The scheme forms part of a range of measures intended to better prepare UK businesses against the growing threat of online attacks. It is expected the kitemark will stimulate the adoption of good cyber standards and practices across the private sector, many parts of which are struggling to deal with the cyber threat.

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The move comes two years after the government unveiled its £860m National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS). Cyber crime is estimated to cost the economy up to £27bn every year and cyber attack will remain a serious threat to UK national security.

A recent survey of 350 FTSE companies by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills revealed that only 14 per cent are regularly considering cyber threats, with a significant number not receiving any intelligence about cyber criminals.

The new standards will be tight enough to prevent around four-fifths of cyber attacks, a government official said, and both large and small businesses should be able to meet the requirements with guidance.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, announced that two years of solid work by government - in partnership with the private sector and academia - ensured the UK's cyber resilience, awareness, skills and capability grows across the board. He added that the government's initiatives are ensuring the UK is one of the safest places to do business in cyberspace.

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02
May 14

NTA Monitor achieves CREST technical security architect

NTA Monitor has passed the stringent criteria required by CREST - not-for-profit organisation that represents ethical security testers - to supply security architecture services.

NTA Monitor is now one of just a handful of information security companies in the UK that has been approved to advise on information assurance (IA) architecture and help design secure systems.

Roy Hills, NTA Monitor's technical director, undertook the rigorous assessments and examinations. He said: "We are delighted that we can offer these new services, which give a demonstrable level of assurance of our processes and procedures, and validates the competence of our staff.

"During the assessment, we had to demonstrate that we have the skills and knowledge to drive beneficial security change into a business through the development or review of architectures, mitigate the risks and conform to relevant security policies as well as balance information risk against the cost of countermeasures with experience to recommend high level solutions."

Companies that offer security architecture services must also be able to design and implement secure IS architectures; identify information risks that arise from potential solution architectures; apply ‘standard’ security techniques and architectures to mitigate security risks; and provide consultancy and advice to customers on intrusion analysis, and architectural problems.

Roy, who was a founder member of CREST, has also recently been elected to the organisation's Board. Over the years he has been actively involved in driving the high professional standards for the industry and developing examinations for CREST.

08
Apr 14

Organisations at risk from first iOS 7 jailbreak

Hackers have released a jailbreak for Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 7, posing a security risk for organisations that operate a 'bring your own device' (BYOD) policy.

The evasi0n7 jailbreak, developed by evad3rs, allows iPhone and iPad users to download apps, themes and extensions not available through the official Apple App Store.

While jailbreaking is not illegal in the UK, it does violate Apple's end-user software license agreement. More importantly, jailbroken devices allow hackers to access sensitive personal and business information, and introduce malware, spyware and viruses.

"If staff are downloading apps that aren't from Apple's App Store then this could compromise business security," says Roy Hills, NTA Monitor's technical director.

He added: "A jailbroken device affects Apple's built-in security meaning unauthorised users can open a back door into the company's network and gain access to sensitive data."

Mobile device management (MDM) tools will detect jailbroken devices when they connect to the network.

"If your organisation operates a BYOD policy, staff should not be allowed to use a jailbroken device. It's not worth the risk as Apple's updates are often bug fixes and jailbroken devices won't receive those.

"Having a clear set of BYOD policies and processes as well as MDM tools will help, but it's vital to regularly police and enforce them too. Any device that can access the network remotely needs to be as secure as possible and should not represent points of weakness and vulnerability.

"External testing and regularly running security assessments will highlight areas of weakness and help to reduce the security exposure."

03
Mar 14

Microsoft will allow European data to be stored in EU

The implications of the European Union's proposed General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are already causing much discussion, not least from the US tech giants.

Intended to create a unified data protection standard, until recently US companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, have claimed that the GDPR will stifle internet innovation and have sought to weaken the proposed data protection requirements. They have also presented a united front in refuting claims of collaboration with the NSA.

But Microsoft has recently broken ranks suggesting European customers would be able to choose from a range of European data centres where they would like their data to be stored.

There has been a mixed reaction with some welcoming the news and others greeting it with cynicism.

"Online privacy has become a very hot topic following the Edward Snowden revelations around NSA and GCHQ surveillance. Many businesses are concerned about where their data in the cloud is stored and its security," commented Roy Hills, NTA Monitor technical director.

He added: "While some commentators are pleased Microsoft is prepared to store data locally, others believe it's a cynical attempt to cling onto European revenues as they are aware there is a strong movement in the EU to create infrastructure independent of the US and US tech giants.

"The main thing companies need to be sure of is that wherever their data is stored, they have agreed a robust service level agreement and are confident that their data is being held securely. It may be that you choose to store very sensitive data in-house and less sensitive data in the cloud."

18
Feb 14

Cabinet Office softens PSN stance

The Cabinet Office has responded to concerns that councils are finding it difficult to meet security requirements to enable them to join, or remain connected to, the Public Services Network (PSN).

Last year guidance issued by the PSN Authority, the regulatory body of PSN, which is managed by the Cabinet Office, made it clear they were taking a zero tolerance approach. Councils were threatened with disconnection if they failed to comply with security measures.

In a letter the Cabinet chief operating officer Stephen Kelly laid out that the PSN team will ensure the PSN infrastructure best serves the interests of all public service organisations, which includes delivering a level of security proportionate to the business risk and pragmatic in its implementation.

The news was welcomed by Steve Halliday, president at Socitm, the professional body for public sector IT. He stated: "We are cautiously confident that the 2014-15 PSN experience will be considerably less frustrating than 2013-14 has been."

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