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05.02.16

Councils must play ‘active role’ in National Cybersecurity Strategy – Socitm

Local government must play an active role in the development of the country’s National Cybersecurity Strategy, the Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) has stated. 

In last year’s Autumn Statement, the chancellor announced the government would invest £1.9bn over five years in the UK’s cyber defences. This includes the development of a new National Cyber Centre, reporting to the director of GCHQ, to act as a single point of contact to “simplify and strengthen government effort” on cyber security and improve engagement with industry. 

Martin Ferguson, director of policy and research at Socitm, and a member of PSE’s editorial board, said councils should play an “active role” in the work, as it will ensure local government needs are treated as part of the ‘ecosystem’ of government services. 

“Central and local government should be in a symbiotic relationship to resource and develop local capacity to ensure secure operation of joined-up services,” he added. 

Ferguson noted that a recent malware attack on Lincolnshire County Council, which led to the shutdown of the local authority’s computer systems, was “a rare example” of a successful attack. 

“Local government has a strong track record of investing in information security and of engaging service managers in business continuity planning,” he said. 

“Socitm has been working with DCLG to share best practice in cybersecurity over many years and discussions with DCLG are in train to explore the possibility of central funding for local government to help further cybersecurity best practice among councils.” 

Ferguson added that the ongoing threat from existing and new forms of malware and other forms of cyber-attack means that “addressing these threats needs sustained focus”.

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