New advice to tackle cyber threats in UK ‘smart cities’

15/03/2024

Local authorities across the country will now be able to access new advice on how to stay safe from cyber threats, including practical guidance on what to do in the event of an attack and how to assess the cyber security of their suppliers.

Published today (6th March 2024), the beta Secure Connected Places Playbook includes fresh practical guidance on how connected places (or ‘smart cities’) – communities relying on information technology to deliver key public services – can protect themselves from would-be attacks.  

The advice is aimed at local areas that might be using sensors to monitor water levels in areas at risk of flooding, smart local energy systems to reduce pressure on the grid, and temperature and moisture sensors in houses to monitor and improve living conditions.

Measures included in the guidance range from detailed help on how to evaluate suppliers based on their cybersecurity practices, including sample questions to ask them, to extra information on how to encourage a strong cybersecurity mindset in an organisation that deals with connected places.

The version launched today by Minister Viscount Camrose at an event in London, builds on advice published last year by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and expands resources on cyber security governance, risk management, procurement and supply chain security.

Figures show almost one in three (32%) firms have suffered a cyber breach or attack in the past year, with a rise in damaging ransomware attacks and malicious actors posing significant threats as they look to take advantage of cyber security vulnerabilities. 

Thanks to the new guidance, local authorities will be able to learn what to do in the instance of a cybersecurity attack, how to inform and foster a stronger cybersecurity mindset across their communities, as well as assess the security of their suppliers.

The resources have been developed in collaboration with 17 authorities from the UK’s four nations, ensuring the best practices mirror the diversity of the needs and challenges of ‘Smart Cities’ in every corner of the UK.

The continuous engagement with local authorities in expanding the Connected Places Security Playbook feeds into the government’s National Cyber Strategy, helping solidify the UK’s place as a global leader in secure and sustainable connected places.

Through the £2.6 billion National Cyber Strategy, the government has invested significantly in the UK’s cyber defences and the nation is much more secure as a result. The strategy advocates for a comprehensive approach, encouraging collaboration among innovators, investors, academics, the industry, law enforcement, the government, and more, to fortify our cyber capabilities and ensure national resilience. 

Minister for Cyber, AI, and Intellectual Property, Viscount Camrose, said:

“Digital innovation can unlock endless avenues in our cities and towns, from higher-earning employment opportunities and safer infrastructure to better travel experiences.“But we know that these transformative opportunities don’t come without risks of cyber threat. This is why we are taking world-first actions to equip local authorities with all the necessary tools to foster secure and sustainable growth in their communities, empowering them to realise the full potential technologies can offer.

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