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Chris Gibson to head up UK’s national Computer Emergency Response Team

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The delayed launch of the national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) is getting back on track with the appointment of its new director, Chris Gibson. This comes after the project was delayed until next year.

The organisation was due to be up and running this year but recruitment and other issues meant its launch was put back until early 2014.<

CERT-UK, a pillar of the government's £650m National Cyber Security Strategy, is designed to co-ordinate responses to online attacks on a national level.

However things are finally moving along with the announcement of Gibson's appointment as the director CERT-UK. Gibson joins the government having previously been director of e-Crime at Citigroup and after serving for the last two years as chair of the international Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams.

In a statement, Francis Maude, the minister for Cabinet Office, said: “Chris Gibson brings with him a wealth of experience in cyber incident response in the private sector, both in the UK and internationally. His first-hand knowledge and understanding of cyber security will be invaluable as he leads the national CERT.

“We set out in our national Cyber Security Strategy the importance of strengthening our response to cyber incidents. By establishing CERT-UK we will build on and complement our existing CERT structures. This will help improve national co-ordination of cyber incidents and act as a focus point for international sharing of technical information on cyber security. CERT-UK will be the expert single point of contact for other national CERTs around the globe," he added.

Gibson said: “I am delighted to join CERT-UK as we enter this exciting phase, with implementation underway and the leadership team now being appointed I am looking forward to the task of bringing together Government, industry, law enforcement and academia to establish the CERT as a team of professionals forming a world-class response to cyber threats to the UK.”

Idea from industry

The UK has had industry-specific CERTs for years (such as Janet CSIRT for university networks, and comparable organisations within government and for the UK defence forces) but has been slow to set up a national CERT, designed to co-ordinate response across all public and private sectors. CERT-UK will provide a comparable function to US-CERT, which has been operating for 10 years since 2003.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson explained that it is hoped that CERT-UK will be up and running early next year, once suitable accommodation is secured and a team is recruited. “In December 2012 HMG announced its intention to move towards a National Computer Emergency Response Team. This decision followed lessons learned from the Olympics which have informed our Cyber Security National Incident Management policy," it said.

“The new CERT will build on and complement existing structures within government, extending beyond government to industry and academia to provide a core incident management response for the benefit of the UK as a whole. Currently, the design of the new national CERT is complete and the implementation is underway with a particular focus on securing appropriate accommodation, technology and staff. We are continuing to consult with a wide range of stakeholders and are working to ensure CERT-UK is operational early next year.”

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