Top government spy agencies GCHQ and MI5 are backing audits of the cyber security strategies at the UK’s top firms in order to assess their preparedness against the threat of cyber attacks.
The agencies have added their support to a letter, sent by the department of Business, Skills and Innovation (BIS), to the UK’s top FTSE 350 firms offering to carry out Cyber Governance Health Checks. However, it is unclear who would carry out the health checks, and what specifically the audit would entail.
The letter, a copy of which has been seen by V3, outlines the threats facing firms from cyber attacks and the need to ensure adequate measures are in place to protect data and systems.
“The cyber threat is diverse and continues to grow, from those looking to seize commercial advantage and intellectual property to those looking to destroy critical data and undermine the integrity of systems,” it reads.
“Cyber attacks against companies are already causing significant damage to personal and organisational reputations and revenues.”
As such, the audits are designed as a chance for firms to have their cyber security practices audited and anonymously scrutinised against their peers. This information will then be used to help firms understand where they could improve their strategies.
“The Cyber Governance Health Check will provide a free and confidential set of conclusions and a comparison of your business against its peers, helping inform subsequent vulnerability discussions between the company and its external auditor," it adds.
"This will better enable you and your board to understand and manage risks that have the potential to cause major damage to your business.”
The programme is expected to begin in September and the government is hoping the initiative will lead to increased dialogue between industry and government on how best to tackle the scourge of cyber threats.
The move comes a day after UK retailer Lakeland revealed it was hit by a sophisticated cyber attack on two of its databases that forced the firm to reset all customer passwords as a precaution.
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