Intelligence bosses ask biggest UK firms to take 'security health check'

Summary:FTSE 350 companies are being invited to review their cyber governance by the heads of GCHQ and MI5.

The heads of the UK's biggest listed companies have been invited to take a government health check on their 'cyber-governance' by the country's intelligence chiefs.

The initiative comes after previous attempts at raising awareness of online threats met with limited takeup: according to the Financial Times, fewer than one in 10 large businesses acted on government web security advice published earlier this year.

The director general of MI5 Andrew Parker, the director of GCHQ Sir Iain Lobban, and science minister David Willetts have all signed a letter sent to the chairpeople of all FTSE 350 companies asking their businesses to take part in a two-stage security assessment, the FT reports. (GCHQ confirmed that its director had put his name to the letter.)

As part of a plan to boost awareness of cybercrime, both the company chairperson and the head of the company's audit committee are being asked to complete a questionnaire on web governance matters including protecting IP and customer data, the FT said.

After the questionnaire is returned, the company's audit organisation will be invited to discuss any vulnerabilities that have been uncovered.

Companies will also be able to see aggregated, anonymised data on all the other companies that have taken part, to see how well they fare against their peers. That data should be published before the end of the year, the paper added.

Topics: Security, Government : UK, United Kingdom

About

Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including silicon.com, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

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