16 May 2018

New rules come into force to protect UK’s critical infrastructure

New measures to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure and digital services from cyber attacks and computer network failure are now in force.

Bosses of firms in health, water, energy, transport and digital infrastructure will now be expected to have robust safeguards in place against cyber threats and report breaches and network outages to regulators within 72 hours or they face fines of up to £17 million.

The new law announced by Digital Minister Margot James will help reduce the number of damaging cyber attacks affecting the UK.

The National Cyber Security Centre, set up by the government in October 2016 as part of GCHQ, has already responded to more than 950 significant incidents, including WannaCry.

It will also give new regulators powers to assess critical industries and make sure plans are in place to prevent attacks.

The regulator will have the power to issue legally-binding instructions to improve security, and – if necessary – impose significant fines.

The legislation will also cover other threats affecting IT such as hardware failures and environmental hazards.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “It’s vital that we put in place tough new measures to strengthen the UK’s cyber security and make sure we are the safest place in the world to live and be online.

“Organisations must act now to make sure that they are primed and ready to stop potential cyber attacks and be resilient against major disruption to the services we all rely on.”

Fines would be a last resort and will not apply to operators, which have assessed the risks adequately, taken appropriate security measures and engaged with regulators but still suffered an attack.

Incidents must be reported directly to the appropriate regulator. Where an incident has a cyber security aspect, organisations should contact the NCSC for support and advice. The NCSC will also act as the Single Point of Contact between the UK and EU Member States.

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