Gov funds healthcare suppliers improve cyber security

Hundreds of the country’s healthcare firms are being given government funding to boost their cyber security.

The move comes after the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) identified a heightened cyber threat to the UK health sector in relation to the pandemic, with cyber crime groups attempting to steal sensitive intelligence, intellectual property and personal information from pharmaceutical companies and medical research organisations.

Small and medium-sized businesses, such as medical suppliers and primary care providers, are being invited to apply for a slice of the £500,000 funding for the initiative, which will see all consultancy and certification costs covered by the government.

Participants can receive guidance and support to get accreditation from the government’s Cyber Essentials certification. This includes 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.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: "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."

Paul Chichester, the NCSC’s director of operations, said: "Protecting healthcare has been our top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic and we have been working hard to ensure organisations can keep themselves secure."

Despite some progress in recent years, almost half of all businesses (46 per cent) suffered a cyber breach or attack in the last 12 months, with 32 per cent experiencing them at least once a week, according to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020.

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