By Claire West

The UK’s most senior business leaders are getting new advice on how to better tackle the growing cyber threats to their companies.

Currently, too few company chief executives and chairs take a direct interest in protecting their businesses from cyber threats.

So now, for the first time, the Government and intelligence agencies are directly targeting the most senior levels in the UK’s largest companies and providing them with advice on how to safeguard their most valuable assets, such as personal data, online services and intellectual property.

Today, the Government is launching Cyber Security Guidance for Business at an event attended by FTSE 100 CEOs and Chairs, Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Foreign Office, Cabinet Office, Home Office and senior figures from the intelligence agencies.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“Cyber security threats pose a real and significant risk to UK business by targeting valuable assets such as data and intellectual property. By properly protecting themselves against attacks companies are protecting their bottom line.

“Ensuring this happens should be the responsibility of any chief executive or chair as part of an approach to good corporate governance which secures a business for the long-term.”

Foreign Secretary William Hague, as Minister responsible for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), said:

“The UK is committed to building a secure, resilient, open and trusted internet. We are working with partners across the globe to ensure this vision becomes a reality.

“A networked world brings many advantages. But cyberspace — and cybercrime — knows no borders. Businesses must be alert to the dangers. Drawing on GCHQ’s experience and working with industry the Government is committed to helping reduce vulnerability to attacks and ensure that the UK is the safest place in the world to do business.”

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

“Cyber crime is a serious problem which affects businesses of all sizes and can have devastating consequences.

“That is why we have funded the expansion of the Police Central e-Crime Unit in the Metropolitan Police and SOCA’s Cyber Unit, and established three regional cyber specialist hubs to help combat the threat. We will build on this by introducing a dedicated cyber crime unit in the new National Crime Agency.”

The new guidance, produced by the CESG (the Information Security arm of GCHQ), BIS and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), will help the private sector minimise the risks to company assets.

The guidance builds on a key objective within the Government’s Cyber Security Strategy to work hand in hand with industry and make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do online business.

Cyber Security Guidance for Business consists of three products:

The first product is aimed at senior executives. It offers some high level questions which we believe will assist and support them to determine their critical information assets, support them in their strategic level risk discussions and help them ensure that they have the right safeguards and cultures in place

The second product is an Executive Companion which discusses how Cyber Security is one of the biggest challenges that business and the wider UK economy face today. It offers guidance for business on how together we can make the UK's networks more resilient and protect key information assets against cyber threats. The document focuses around key points of risk management and corporate governance and includes some anonymous case studies based on real events

The third product supports the Executive Companion and provides more detailed cyber security information and advice for 10 critical areas (covering both technical and process/cultural areas). If implemented as a set it can substantially reduce the cyber risk by helping to prevent or deter the majority of types of attacks. For each of these 10 areas, we have summarised the issue, outlined the potential risks and provided some practical measures and advice to reduce these risks. The material integrates the "Top 20 Critical Controls for Effective Cyber Defence" as endorsed by CPNI. These controls provide further detailed guidance.