Hundreds of the country’s vital healthcare firms are set to benefit from government funding to boost their cyber security, the Digital Infrastructure minister Matt Warman has confirmed as part of London Tech Week.
The move comes after the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) identified a heightened cyber threat to the UK health sector in relation to the pandemic, with cyber crime groups attempting to steal sensitive intelligence, intellectual property and personal information from pharmaceutical companies and medical research organisations.
Small and medium-sized businesses, such as medical suppliers and primary care providers, are being invited to apply for a slice of the £500,000 funding for the initiative which will see all consultancy and certification costs covered by the government.
Participants can receive guidance and support to get accreditation from the government’s Cyber Essentials certification.
This includes training to make sure all phones, tablets, laptops or computers are kept up-to-date, proper firewall usage to secure devices’ internet connections, and user access controls to manage employee access to services.
Firms could opt to receive support from one of the programme’s cyber experts, who will look at the organisation as a whole, identify its cyber security risks and help develop and implement a business continuity plan.
Warman said: “We know there is a heightened cyber threat for healthcare businesses at the moment so we are releasing new funding to help those playing a vital role in the pandemic response to remain resilient.
“I also urge all organisations to sign up to the government’s Cyber Essentials programme which contains a number of simple steps firms can take to get the fundamentals of good cyber security in place.”
While Paul Chichester, the NCSC’s director of operations, added: “Protecting healthcare has been our top priority during the Covid-19 pandemic and we have been working hard to ensure organisations can keep themselves secure.
“While we will continue to support them, signing up to initiatives such as Cyber Essentials is an excellent way for organisations to help themselves.
“Those who have not already taken up this offer should do so – it will help ensure they have fundamental security protections in place, even in the most challenging of times.”