In a bid to fortify defences against cyber threats, UK business directors and senior leaders are encouraged to adopt a new code of practice on cyber security governance, unveiled today (23 January) by the government.

The draft measures aimed at prioritising cyber security on par with financial and legal considerations, urge leaders to establish clear roles and responsibilities across their organisations.

Developed in collaboration with industry directors, cyber experts, and the National Cyber Security Centre, the code of practice emphasises the importance of detailed response and recovery plans for potential cyber incidents.

The code of practice, targeted at executive and non-executive directors, advocates for regular testing of cyber incident response plans and the implementation of a formal reporting system.

Organisations are also prompted to equip employees with adequate skills and awareness to navigate the challenges posed by cyber issues while working with emerging technologies.

Viscount Camrose, Minister for AI and Intellectual Property, highlighted the significance of the new code, stating, “Cyber attacks are as damaging as financial and legal pitfalls, making it crucial for bosses to take a firm grip of their organisation’s cyber security regimes.”

The government is seeking input from businesses of all sizes and sectors on the draft code, aiming to shape and enhance the future of cyber security in the UK. Industry and business professionals are encouraged to share their opinions, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and solutions.

Lindy Cameron, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre, emphasised the evolving nature of cyber security, stating, “CEOs and directors need to understand the risks and mitigate potential threats,” endorsing the new Code as a tool to elevate cyber resilience in organizations.

In addition to the code of practice, the government is releasing its response to a call for views on software resilience and security, focusing on mitigating risks associated with software and digital supply chains.

The proposal includes measures to ensure the secure development and maintenance of software, fostering collaboration with the industry to develop a code of practice for software vendors.

The call for views on the new code of practice and software resilience will be open until 19 March, allowing stakeholders to contribute to the development of robust cybersecurity measures. These initiatives form part of the government’s £2.6bn National Cyber Strategy to safeguard and bolster the UK’s online presence.

In September, a parliamentary report warned the UK was at high risk of a “catastrophic” ransomware attack that could cost tens of billions of pounds and shut down critical infrastructure.

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The news follows a report from research company GlobalData that warned employees will face a greater risk of spear-phishing attacks in 2024. The research company claimed that cyber risk is higher than ever, and the consequences of attacks are significant.