The UK government launched its long-awaited Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) on Wednesday morning, to protect the country’s £82bn digital economy from the threat of cyber attackers.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude announced the launch at an event in London attended by V3, marking the next stage in the CISP programme, after a two-year trial period that began in 2011 and involved 160 companies.
Maude said the official launch of the scheme will help protect the UK’s growing digital economy from hackers by facilitating real time data sharing between the government and private sector.
“The UK’s internet ecosystem is now worth £82bn a year and rising. We’re here today because all of us are invested in the success of the internet. But if we want to go on enjoying the benefits of the cyber space then we need to team up to fight the common enemy,” said Maude.
“That’s is what CISP is all about. It’s about government and business working closely together to build a comprehensive picture of the threat and then coming up with the best answer. Business played an crucial role designing this partnership so it would work for business.”
The expanded program will increase the number of companies and agencies involved and add a new secure "collaboration environment" for businesses to candidly discuss the threats they are facing.
The information shared will be added to a new 'Fusion Cell' service that will collate the data to offer participating parties an enhanced overview of cyber threats facing the UK.
The cell will be run by the Security Service, GCHQ and the National Crime Agency, and selected industry analysts from a variety of unnamed sectors.
The scheme is part of the UK's ongoing cyber strategy. The UK announced its new Cyber Strategy in 2011, pledging to invest £650m to help businesses combat the increased cyber threat they face.
Maude said businesses must be more open with their data if they hope to combat the ever evolving cyber threats that now exist.
“The threat is growing. I spoke on cyber security in December and since then there have been yet more high profile attacks. Just a week ago computer networks running three major South Korean banks and two of the country’s largest broadcasters were paralyzed by cyber attacks,” said Maude.
“Ninety-three percent of large corporations and three quarters of small businesses are believed to have had a cyber security breach in the last year. The government blocks on average over 33,000 malicious emails every month and even a single successful attack can have disastrous consequences.
“This is high stakes, fast paced global battle ground and here in the UK our responses need to be fast and flexible, we need to be fleet of foot.”
Outside of the UK the European Commission and US government are also mounting their own cyber security initiatives to help improve cross-national information sharing.
Former White House cyber security advisor, Howard Schmidt, said the UK CISP will help, cementing the UK and US's ongoing cyber partnership.
"In the US, we have seen the emphasis that president Obama has placed on cyber security and in particular steps to protect our critical infrastructure," said Schmidt.
"The launch of the UK CISP is an important step in forging an ongoing partnership between industry and government, promoting information sharing by providing the ability to analyse and re-distribute information in a timely, actionable and relevant manner."
CISP's launch follows the announcement of numerous other UK Cyber Strategy initiatives.
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