‘Get your act together’: UK government warns critical infrastructure providers on cyber security

Published: Monday, 29 January 2018 09:10

Britain’s critical infrastructure providers have been warned to boost cyber security or face large fines for leaving themselves vulnerable to attack says the UK Government.

Under the Government’s new Network and Information Systems (NIS) Directive, energy, transport, water and health firms could be fined up to £17 million if they fail to have the most robust safeguards in place against cyber attack.

New regulators will be able to assess critical industries to make sure plans are as robust as possible.

A simple, straightforward reporting system will be set up to make it easy to report cyber breaches and IT failures so they can be quickly identified and acted upon.

This will ensure UK operators in electricity, transport, water, energy, transport, health and digital infrastructure are prepared to deal with the increasing numbers of cyber threats.

It will also cover other business continuity threats affecting IT such as power outages, hardware failures and environmental hazards.

Under the new measures recent cyber breaches such as WannaCry and high profile systems failures would be covered by the NIS Directive.

These incidents would have to be reported to the regulator who would assess whether appropriate security measures were in place. The regulator will have the power to issue legally-binding instructions to improve security, and – if appropriate – impose financial penalties.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said:

“We are setting out new and robust cyber security measures to help ensure the UK is the safest place in the world to live and be online. We want our essential services and infrastructure to be primed and ready to tackle cyber attacks and be resilient against major disruption to services.

“I encourage all public and private operators in these essential sectors to take action now and consult NCSC’s advice on how they can improve their cyber security.”

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the UK’s centre of cyber excellence established in 2017, has published detailed guidance on the security measures to help organizations comply.