Cyber Centre of Excellence Makes A Splash

The Cyber Centre of Excellence (CCoE) has been well-received since its official launch earlier this year. It has created two new packages of protection aimed at councillors and sole traders, and is currently conducting trials with other sectors, including parish councils, schools and small businesses to ensure its offer meets their needs. It has also carried out a passive scan on the cyber security of the UK’s 382 councils – the results of which can be accessed by each authority but are not publicly available.

The CCoE is an organisation with a mission to make the UK the saftest place digitally in the world to live, work and play online. Its advice and services are available to all sectors, including public and private organisations both large and small. The aim is to help all CCoE users stay abreast of cyber threats and give them access to easy-to- procure military-grade protection at high street prices through collective purchasing power. Sitting behind the CCoE is an Advisory Forum of some of the UK’s leading experts in cyber security to keep the CCoE up to date with threats and informed about new innovations.

Kurtis Toy, the Convener of the CCoE, said the initiative had been very well received so far and
that the organisations it had spoken to had been open and willing to engage with it: “So far it is all going well and progressing quickly. It is great to see the appetite for the support we can provide,” he said.

The CCoE recently conducted a passive scan of the UK’s 382 councils. Rather than being invasive, the scan searches the internet to find publicly available information which any hacker could use to infiltrate an organisation. Whilst liaising with the top ten councils with the most vulnerabilities found, the CCoE found most risks were known and being dealt with, however the report still offers a useful second check to help prevent security breaches. “When local authorities have seen their reports, they have been very grateful that it has been done to give them a helping hand. The aim is to highlight possible areas of improvement and to provide that second check for any busy IT manager or Chief Information Security Officer,” Toy added.

The CCoE has also been carrying out trials to understand what a tailored package of protection would look like for various sectors, including schools. David Tutt, Chair of iESE Transformation Ltd and a trustee of a special school trust called the Southfield Trust, explained why the CCoE’s capabilities and offering was being tested with schools in the trust. “Most schools have an awareness of cyber security but are probably not certain what to do about it because a ready remedy hasn’t been available. Many headteachers will believe the antivirus that they purchase or get for free is fine or they go with the default because it is affordable. However, schools have financial details and sensitive data on their systems, and it is really important that is protected. A huge number of cyber-attacks take place every day and, while schools may not be individually targeted, these organisations can get caught up causing major disruption. Having military-grade protection and support at affordable prices through the CCoE will offer peace of mind,” he said.

Another trial is taking place with Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council to establish what elements of CCoE assistance and products might benefit larger public authorities. Ryan James, Chief Information Security Officer at Merthyr Tydfil, said: “The establishment of the Cyber Centre of Excellence provides an excellent resource for Local Public Services across the UK, bringing together professionals to offer support to the UK Public Sector to address the ever-increasing cyber risk. Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council is pleased to be part of a cyber security pilot with the CCoE. As an organisation, assurance and compliance is important to us, and whilst we currently gain assurance from ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials Plus compliance and certification, we welcomed the offer to gain further assurance via the CCoE. The opportunity to assess our existing cyber defences and gain further advice and guidance to protect against the rise in cyber attacks is recognised as a beneficial piece of work for us. The resources the CCoE have access to are valuable and we welcome the opportunity to gain access to these via the CCoE.”

To get in touch with the CCoE, please click on the button below and a member of the team will be in touch with you in due course.

iESE Conference 2023

The iESE Conference 2023 will focus on practical steps local authority officers and members can take to boost their cyber security at home and work.

There are limited spaces for senior officers and members. To find out more and to register your free place, click on the button below.

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