Lord David Blunkett launches The Cyber Highway, aimed at protecting the supply chain from cyber attack

Tuesday 20 September 2016, London – Today sees the launch of The Cyber Highway which offers a new, unique and user-friendly online portal for large enterprises that want to strengthen the cyber defence of their supply chain, and for companies of all sizes that want to improve their cyber resilience.

It is the first time that companies will be empowered to take control online of the Cyber Essentials certification process, enabling them to make improvements to the safety and security of their digital assets.  Enterprise companies will have the ability to monitor in real-time the progress that their suppliers are making, en route to Cyber Essentials certification.

Cyber Essentials is a UK Government scheme, supported by industry, to help organisations protect themselves against the most common cyber attacks.  It was developed as part of the UK’s National Cyber Security Programme, with the full scheme launched in June 2014.

Lord David Blunkett, former Home Secretary and Chairman of Cyber Essentials Direct Ltd, the team behind The Cyber Highway, said: “The UK Government has made significant progress.  Government departments now require suppliers bidding for particular contracts to be Cyber Essentials certified and next month sees the launch of the National Cyber Security Centre.  These are all steps in the right direction but we can and must go further, especially to assist many more companies to become certified.”

Cyber security breaches have cost UK businesses £34.1bn in the last year, whilst small organisations account for 92% of cyber-attacks, often because of limited resources, highlighting the need for strengthened supply chains.

Lord Blunkett believes that following Brexit, the UK needs to actively maintain its position as a world-leader in cyber security.  He said: “Our partners and potential partners around the world should have complete confidence that we are taking all possible steps to ensure we are securing our economy as the place to do business.  Positive differentiation in the UK will be positive for us and UK plc.

 “It is more important than ever, post-Brexit, for businesses to hold an internationally accepted certification, as competition increases and an extra level of cyber resilience is required.

 “That is why taking steps to secure our supply chain is critical. Critical economically, essential in terms of protecting the national infrastructure of the country, as well as the protection of our own personal data and information.”

The Cyber Highway helps defend the infrastructure of businesses with which larger enterprise companies trade, by helping to defeat up to 80% of common online threats. It is the only solution that can handle large numbers of companies looking to achieve Cyber Essentials certification simultaneously, cost-effectively and with minimal external intervention.

CEO John Lyons said: “We have spent the last eighteen months designing a practical and helpful approach to help de-risk and secure otherwise vulnerable supply chains from cyber-attack.

“As The Cyber Highway is built around internationally recognised UK Government and GCHQ standards, enterprise companies have the confidence that the robustness of the cyber security in their supply chain is something they can trust.  Furthermore, protective measures like this will help secure the critical national infrastructure.”

The Cyber Highway team is currently in the process of onboarding over 300 companies onto the platform, representing supply chain businesses in the retail and technology sectors.  They have also signed-up a high street bank as a customer with the intention of rolling out CE Plus (CE+) certification across their businesses and supply chain.

Companies that gain CE certification through The Cyber Highway will have access to AIG’s CyberEdge range of cyber liability insurance cover at reduced rates.

Speaking at the launch, Malcolm Carrie, Industry Programme Director of the Defence Cyber Protection Partnership (DCPP), said “Cyber Essentials is the ground level for the Defence supply chain – the Defence Cyber Protection Partnership has layered further controls on top of it to address higher risk scenarios.  Smoothing the path to obtaining Cyber Essentials certification is welcome.”

Overseas governments are also in discussions with Cyber Essentials Direct to implement the Cyber Essentials programme in their own countries.  CyberNB (Cyber New Brunswick), Canada’s first Provincial body to develop a comprehensive cyber security strategy, is evaluating The Cyber Highway.

John Lyons expanded upon how The Cyber Highway is a standard, practical solution that will work anywhere in the world for businesses. He said:

“The global nature of the threat requires global solutions.  By using The Cyber Highway to gain Cyber Essentials certification, we create a common cyber security standard which protects businesses wherever they trade.

“The Cyber Highway is an internationally relevant solution and a compelling offer for governments around the world looking to protect their business communities from cyber attack.”

CyberNB representatives have been closely reviewing the successes and progress of The Cyber Highway to assess how a potential implementation in Canada could work. John Kershaw, CyberSmartNB Lead, New Brunswick, Canada, said: “The UK is to be congratulated for working closely with their business community to address cyber crime through the creation of Cyber Essentials and the Cyber Highway.

“Cyber crime is a growing global challenge requiring an international response and we look forward to learning from and working closely with the ICSPA, the UK government and other agencies here to support our businesses in the same way.”