Marking the second anniversary of the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (LORCA), a government-backed cyber innovation program, Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman announced that hundreds of the U.K.’s vital healthcare firms are set to benefit from government’s newest funding aimed at boosting their cybersecurity posture. The announcement comes after LORCA revealed that the companies supported by it have raised more than £150m (US$200m approx) in investment since its launch two years ago. The announcement was also part of the London Tech Week.
According to the announcement, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) identified a surge in cyberattacks targeting the U.K.’s healthcare since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the NCSC, cybercriminals and syndicates have been attempting to steal sensitive intelligence, intellectual property, and personal information from pharmaceutical companies and medical research organizations.
“We know there is a heightened cyber threat for healthcare businesses at the moment so we are releasing new funding to help those playing a vital role in the pandemic response to remain resilient,” Warman said.
Small and medium-sized businesses, which have been struggling with cybersecurity budget constraints since early this year owing to the pandemic, are touted to be among the biggest benefactors from the new initiative. SMEs are being invited to apply for a slice of the £500,000 funding (US$644855) for the initiative, which will see all consultancy and certification costs covered by the government.
The participants will also be helped get accreditation from the U.K.’s Cyber Essentials certification and set up best practices including training to make sure all phones, tablets, laptops or computers are kept up-to-date, proper firewall usage to secure devices’ internet connections, and user access controls to manage employee access to services. Apart from this, companies can also opt to receive support from one of the program’s cyber experts who will assess the cybersecurity posture of the company, identify its risk portfolio, and help companies implement a business continuity plan.
Warman also urged all organizations to sign up for the government’s Cyber Essentials program.
“Protecting healthcare has been our top priority during the Covid-19 pandemic and we have been working hard to ensure organizations can keep themselves secure,” Paul Chichester, the NCSC’s Director of Operations, said. “While we will continue to support them, signing up to initiatives such as Cyber Essentials is an excellent way for organizations to help themselves.”
Chichester added, “Those who have not already taken up this offer should do so – it will help ensure they have fundamental security protections in place, even in the most challenging of times.”
Recently, NCSC joined hands with international cybersecurity agencies from five countries to issue security guidelines that intend to help organizations globally in disclosing data breaches and handling threat actors.