Resilience is key

North East England is blazing a trail in the fight for cyber security – a region pooling collaborative support together

North Korea crippled the UK’s National Health Service last May – from a distance of 5,400 miles.

The rogue nation was blamed for the devastating WannaCry cyber attack which led to almost 19,500 medical appointments being cancelled, with five hospitals forced to divert ambulances away after being locked out of computers.

This attack, like something from a cheap thriller, dominated headlines worldwide, but it was only a more dramatic example of a growing global problem, which threatens every business and organisation with a computer.

According to PWC’s Global State of Information Security Survey, in 2014, the total number of cyber security incidents detected rose to 42.8 million – 117,339 attacks per day. The next year saw a 38% increase.

The nature of the threats typically include information theft or malware, such as viruses and ransomware, usually deployed through phishing, or bogus emails.
In the North East, with its strong digital sector, there is heightened awareness of the threat and Dynamo North East is launching a workstream of six of the sector’s leading players to counter it.

Phil Jackman, who leads the stream, says: “Dynamo is aiming to create a new, wider type of coordination across the region, involving all aspects of cyber resilience including those in commercial delivery, research and development, learning and corporates.’’

The workstream has already identified 35 Dynamo members involved in cyber security on one or more of these areas.

“We want to map out everybody playing in this space, people who are providing services, consultancy and people who just have a general need. We are trying to map out the whole ecosystem, we would like to create a cluster of all participants’’ he adds.

The group has set itself five objectives:

• To work with organisations or groups that monitor and react to cyber related threats, regionally, nationally and globally;
• To help people in the North East to benefit from an improved understanding of cyber related threats and opportunities;
• To work with organisations involved in the delivery of cyber security services and products;
• To work with organizations that educate, train and develop individuals to meet the future needs of North East businesses;
• To secure sufficient funding to be able to continue the development of the cyber work stream.

Achieving these establishes the North East as a region of high cyber awareness and infrastructural resilience and a centre of excellence in cyber related services including research and development.

All five of the region’s universities are involved in the workstream.

“The aim is to create a cross University think tank, a group of people who are expert in this field,’’ says Jackman. “We want to create a play area across all five universities where students can come in and test and trial systems and devices.’’

Further down the line, the workstream aims to create a security operations centre.

Jackman explains: “It will be a centre where you can outsource your security needs to an external organisation, a cloud-based managed security environment where you get somebody else to be responsible for the security within your organisation.’’

As it has with BIM, the North East could become a world leader.
Jackman says: “It’s about how the whole system can work together so that the North East is the most secure cyber place in the country and it is the place to go to do cyber security.’’

Case study – Accenture

Accenture explains how it helped the BBC enable millions of viewers to binge-stream programs securely:

The security challenge
The BBC needed to transform its world-class digital delivery system so it could provide highly personalized video, audio and textual programming through its website and mobile apps. That meant establishing, for the first time, a user registration and authentication system. Aware of the importance of digital trust, the company insisted on first class security for the new system.

Driving resilience
Accenture built an identity management system that would register and authenticate audience members and collect personalization information, while scaling to an audience of 70 million. It includes sophisticated and secure user registration and data acquisition processes, self-service account management and robust authentication services.

Enterprise secured
Because the platform is armoured in layers of advanced security solutions, the BBC is confident that it now has, and will maintain, a high level of digital trust with its audience members. That, in turn, allows the broadcaster to focus on using the platform’s powerful analytics to further personalize content, even introducing people to programs they’ll love but don’t even know about yet.