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'Cyber' Security - must become a board level issue in the UK ...really?

The UK Government is "committed to helpingreduce vulnerability to attacks and ensure that the UK is the safest place todo business" [1]. It's all part of the much talked about UK Cyber SecurityStrategy [2].

One strand of the strategy was an executivebriefing on cyber security to UK businesses – which included a top 10 focusareas for businesses to concentrate on.

Within that briefing document, Ian Lovain(The Diretor of GCHQ) put it most frankly, "Value,Revenue and Credibility are at stake. Don't let cyber security become theagenda – put it on the agenda" [3].

Isn't it already on the agenda? We're gladyou asked.

We looked at UK FTSE 100 companies,examined the most recent annual reports (as it's common practice to state theprincipal risks and uncertainties that a business may face) and identifiedwhether the board (and the companies auditors) had explicitly itemised cybersecurity as a material risk to the business - or at least called out thepotential impact that the loss of customer data may cause.

We broke the data down by Industry (usingthe standard Industry Classification Benchmark [4]). The findings are probablynot that surprising to those who work in the field of Information Security:

  • In total 49% of companieshighlighted Cyber Risk.
  • Telecommunications, Technologyand Financials (actually only Banking) faired well.
  • Health Care and Basic Materials(with some exceptions) give Cyber Risk little to no mention.
  • The only real surprise was thatfour Consumer Services firms did not make a more explicit mention of Cyber Risk.


No doubt the other industries will catchup, but at least for the time being we're pretty confident that the gap isn'tin boardroom appreciation of cyber risk – but revolves more around middlemanagement execution.

In case there was a lack of clarity abouthow the UK government cyber security strategy is architected and implemented,you don't need to look any further than the cabinet office website [5]:

"TheOffice of Cyber Security & Information Assurance (OCSIA) supports theMinister for the Cabinet Office, the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP and the NationalSecurity Council in determining priorities in relation to securing cyberspace.The unit provides strategic direction and coordinates action relating toenhancing cyber security and information assurance in the UK.

TheOCSIA alongside the Cyber Security Operations Centre work with lead governmentdepartments and agencies such as the Home Office, Ministry of Defence (MoD),Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), CESG, the Centre for theProtection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), the Foreign and CommonwealthOffice and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in drivingforward the cyber security programme for UK government and give the UK thebalance of advantage in cyberspace."