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Tech News : Wales Has Put A SOC In It

The UK’s first national security operations centre (SOC) known as CymruSOC, has launched in Wales to protect the country’s local authorities and fire and rescue services from cyber-attacks.

SOC 

The Welsh government has announced that the new SOC service will be managed by Cardiff-based firm Socura, with the intention of ensuring key organisations can continue offering critical services without disruption due to cyber-attacks. Also, the SOC service is intended to safeguard the data of the majority of the Welsh population, as well as 60,000 employees across the public sector.

The Issue 

The Wales First Minister, Vaughan Gething, recently outlined the reasons behind the introduction of CymruSOC, saying that the pandemic showed how important the digital side of peoples’ lives has become. Also, the fact that it is now “central” to the way people in Wales learn, work, access public services, and conduct business i.e., there’s now a reliance on digital), has also led to a “stark increase in the risk of cyber-attacks which are becoming ever more common and sophisticated.”  

24/7 Monitoring 

The Socura SOC team will monitor for potential threats such as phishing and ransomware from its 24/7 remote SOC. Also, the Welsh government says that in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Centre, CymruSOC will share threat intelligence information to ensure they are aware of emerging risks.

‘Defend As One’ Approach 

First Minister Vaughan Gething has also highlighted how CymruSOC (this new national security operations centre), a first-of-its-kind solution with social partnership at its heart, will “take a ‘defend as one’ approach”. Mr Gething views CymruSOC as being “a vital part” of the Cyber Action Plan for Wales, which was launched only one year ago, and which Mr Gething describes as “making good progress to protect public services and strengthen cyber resilience and preparedness.” 

Incidents 

Recent incidents which may have helped speed along the setting up of SOC include a reported hack on the Welsh government’s iShare Connect portal earlier this year, and Harlech Community Council (North Wales) being scammed last November by online fraudsters to the tune of £9,000 (the equivalent of 10 per cent of its annual budget.

A Boost In Defences 

Andy Kays, the CEO of Cardiff-based firm Socura, which is managing CymruSOC, has noted that by sharing a SOC and threat intel across all Welsh local authorities, “even the smallest Welsh town will now have the expertise and defences of a large modern enterprise organisation.”

Also, Mr Kays highlighted the importance of boosting the cyber-defences of and protecting the data held by local councils by making the point that a local council is where people “register a birth, apply for schools, housing, and marriage licences” and it is this that makes them “a prized target for financially motivated cybercriminal groups as well as nation state actors seeking to cause disruption to critical infrastructure.” 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Considering the importance of public sector services such as fire and rescue, plus the fact that the wealth of data and sometimes outdated and underfunded systems of councils and other public sector institutions often make them a softer target for cyber criminals, this is a timely development for Wales. Also, for businesses operating within Wales, this development offers substantial benefits that extend well beyond the immediate protection of public services.

Firstly, the centralised security operations centre, managed by (private) Cardiff-based firm Socura, should help ensure that even the smallest of local councils can enjoy the cyber-defences typically reserved for large enterprises. This is not just a boost for the public sector but also fortifies the security landscape in which Welsh businesses operate. By boosting the cyber-defences of local authorities, businesses that interact with or rely on them for services can expect a more secure and reliable digital environment. This integration of robust cybersecurity measures means that businesses can operate with a greater assurance of continuity, (hopefully) free from the disruptions of potential cyber-attacks on critical public infrastructure.

The ‘defend as one’ approach advocated by CymruSOC emphasises collaborative security, which may be a crucial advantage for businesses. For example, the shared threat intelligence and resources may ensure that emerging cyber threats are identified and mitigated swiftly, not just within the public sector but potentially within the private sector as well.

Also, the focus on safeguarding data across public sector entities could indirectly benefit businesses. With public services handling sensitive information more securely, businesses interacting with these services or handling similar data can align their practices with these enhanced standards, thus improving their overall data protection strategies. This alignment not only helps in compliance with regulatory requirements but also builds trust with customers and partners who are increasingly concerned about data security.

The establishment of CymruSOC, therefore, appears to be a forward-thinking initiative that promises not just to fortify the digital framework of Wales’s public sector, but also for businesses and other entities that interact with them, all of which could help foster growth and innovation in Wales in an increasingly digital business landscape.

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