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UK government launches online tool to help companies test cyber-security defences

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The UK government is introducing “cyber fitness” tools that will help local authorities, emergency services and small businesses shore up their online defences.

Tory MP David Lidington said the new initiative should make the UK one of the safest places to be online in the world.

The free online tool known as the ‘Exercise in a Box’ was designed by experts at the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) and provides organisations with exercises that test their response to online threats.

A range of real-life scenarios based on common cyber threats will be made available.

It is hoped it will help to avoid scenarios such as 2017’s Wannacry attacks, which devastated the NHS computer system, putting patients’ lives at risk.

“The NCSC considers exercising to be one of the most cost-effective ways an organisation can test how it responds to cyber incidents,” said NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin.

“By practising your defence and response mechanisms, you can understand how effective they really are and where there are areas for improvement.

“We’re committed to building the UK’s cyber resilience and continuing our work to make the country the hardest possible target for our adversaries.”

Lidington will appear at the second day of the annual CyberUK security conference in Glasgow, where specialists from the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance met yesterday to discuss cyber threats, amid questions about Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s possible involvement in building Britain’s new 5G network.

“Improved cyber security is a key part of the Government’s plan to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online,” the Cabinet Office minister said.

“This new free online tool will be critical in toughening the cyber defences of small businesses, local government and other public and private sector organisations.”

The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US, who work together to tackle cyber-security threats.

Ciaran Martin, CEO of the NCSC, said it has been brought into the public sphere by the modern digital world and the need to engage with a range of people and organisations.

Speaking to Press Association Scotland at the conference, Martin said: “I think it’s exciting to show off this formidable powerful alliance, not just in terms of what we’ve achieved in the past, but our plans for the future in cyber security.

“I think we’ve been brought out into the open by the modern digital society and the need to engage with industry, the need to engage with other international partners, the need to engage with victims of cyber-attacks.

“I think the potential for us to work together to secure our digital futures is absolutely enormous.”

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