UK Cyber Chief: Company Directors Are Devolving Responsibility For Hacks

GCHQ has demanded that directors start taking charge of cyber security, warning that they are “devolving responsibility” for protecting businesses from hackers.

Ciaran Martin, the head of the agency’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said it is unacceptable for boards to plead ignorance about the threat from cyber-attacks.

It comes after this month’s debilitating “WannaCry” ransomware outbreak, which caused chaos in the NHS and brought operations at factories and train stations to a halt.

“Our business leaders need to stop saying that cyber security is too complicated, and stop devolving responsibility,” Mr Martin said at The Telegraph Cyber Security Conference in London recently.

“Boards must start to treat cyber threats with the same level of critical importance as they do financial or legal issues. It needs to be unthinkable that a board member would say that cyber issues are too complex for them to make judgements about.”

The NCSC was set up last year to help businesses and public organisations counter hackers, and faced its first major test two weeks ago when the ransomware outbreak infected hundreds of thousands of Windows PCs. Security experts have linked the attack to North Korea, although Pyongyang has denied any involvement.

As well as forcing the NHS to cancel operations and shut some services, production at Renault and Nissan factories was stopped, computer systems at O2’s owner Telefonica were hit and FedEx’s logistics operations were affected.

Mr Martin said the NSC’s investigation into who was responsible were ongoing and warned businesses to “expect further significant incidents”. Security analysts have criticised large companies for a lack of boardroom responsibility for IT safeguards, claiming this makes the type of attacks that have hit TalkTalk and Tesco Bank more likely.

Many corporate computer systems continue to run outdated software without the latest security updates, making them vulnerable to hackers.

Telegraph

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