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GCHQ lines up BAE and pals for 'Cyber Incident Response'

When only a huge, bloated military contractor can help

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Eavesdropping spook base GCHQ is drawing up a list of companies that can help power stations, banks and other crucial UK organisations fend off and recover from hacking attacks.

The "Cyber Incident Response" scheme - launched today by CESG, the data security arm of GCHQ, and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) - is targeted at the public sector and firms supporting the UK’s key systems and businesses. A roll out to the wider private sector may follow as the programme matures.

The project, in its pilot phase, recommends four companies selected for their expertise in computer forensics and their ability to respond to digital attacks on electronic systems. The four firms, which will assist the nation's critical organisations, are BAE Systems Detica, Cassidian (the defence and security unit of EADS), Context Information Security and US-based Mandiant.

The concept is modelled on the well-established CHECK scheme that firms can use to find CESG-approved penetration-testing outfits. So-called cyber-incident response services are necessary because, even with a well thought out corporate security policy, malware outbreaks and hacker attacks are inevitable. The trick is to detect attacks early and thwart them before any real damage is done, which is where response services come into play.

The GCHQ scheme builds on the 10 Steps to Cyber Security best practice guidelines published by the government in September, and is designed to further the UK's electronic security strategy.

Chloë Smith, minister for safeguarding Blighty's computers, said: “The growing cyber threat makes it inevitable that some attacks will get through, either where basic security is not implemented, or when an organisation is targeted by a highly capable attacker. ‘Cyber Incident Response’ services provide access to organisations certified by CESG/CPNI to respond effectively to cyber incidents." ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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