UK cyber security community

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The United Kingdom has a diverse cyber security community, interconnected in a complex network.

Although the terminology is currently largely aligned to a "cyber" view of the world, it is taken to still include information-related concerns, with previous predominant terminology including:

  • Automated Data Processing Security or ADP Security (1980s)
  • Computer Security or CompuSec (early 1990s)
  • IT Security or ITSec (mid 1990s)
  • Information Security or InfoSec (late 1990s and early 2000s)
  • Information Assurance or IA (2000s and early 2010s)

The significant constituents within that community are probably best understood by grouping into high level categories, namely:

  • Public sector bodies
  • Academia
  • Professional bodies
  • Industry groups
  • Cross-sector bodies

Public sector bodies[edit]


According to a parliamentary committee the UK government is not doing enough to protect the nation against cyber attack.[1]

Central government[edit]

National strategy[edit]

The UK Government periodically publishes a Cyber Security Strategy.[3]

Many of the stakeholders across all categories are engaged with that effort.

Capstone components[edit]

The overall responsibility for security within the UK rests with the National Security Council which is a cabinet committee chaired by the Prime Minister tasked with overseeing all issues related to national security, intelligence coordination, and defence strategy.

The internal protective security coordination role for UK government is led by the Government Chief Security Officer (GCSO) within the Cabinet Office, who since 2021 has been Vincent Devine.[4]

The central organisation supporting the GCSO is the Government Security Group (GSG), with a distributed Government Security Function / Government Security Profession across the departments and Arms Length Bodies (ALB), and three National Technical Authorities (NTA), all of which have a role in information and/or cyber security:

  • The National Technical Authority for Cyber Security (NTA-C) is the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is the UK's authority on cyber security; its parent organisation is GCHQ. It absorbed and replaced CESG (the information security arm of GCHQ) as well as the Centre for Cyber Assessment (CCA), Computer Emergency Response Team UK (CERT UK) and the cyber-related responsibilities of the former Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). NCSC provides advice and support for the public and private sector in how to avoid cyber threats.[5] CESG (originally Communications-Electronics Security Group) was a branch of GCHQ which worked to secure the communications and information systems of the government and critical parts of UK national infrastructure. The NPSA provided protective security advice to businesses and organisations across the national infrastructure.
  • The National Technical Authority for Protective Security (NTA-P) is the National Protective Security Authority (NPSA) is the successor organisation to CPNI, but retains some elements of information and cyber security that were not transferred to NCSC, including for Cyber Physical Systems (CPS), and for security containers, locks, and structures to protect assets
  • The National Technical Authority for Technical Security (NTA-T) is the UK National Technical Authority for Counter-Eavesdropping (UK NACE), which deals predominantly with countering technical surveillance

Coordination of activity across government is through a series of committees, both from within the world of security,[6] and in aligned domains such as the Chief Technology Officers (CTO), and Knowledge and Information Management (KIM).

Civilian components[edit]

The role of Lead Government Department (LGD) for Cyber Security is currently fulfilled by the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology (DSIT), having previously rested with:

DSIT is responsible for supporting and promoting the UK cyber security sector, promoting cyber security research and innovation, and working with the National Cyber Security Centre to help ensure all UK organisations are secure online and resilient to cyber threats.

All other government departments and ALBs will have staff in the government security function / government security profession, supporting both their internal staff, and their client communities.

Former bodies in this category include:

Defence components[edit]

The Ministry of Defence has primacy for information and cyber security within both its civilian and military staffs (approximately 250,000 personnel), and for the Defence Supply Base (DSB - approximately 30,000 companies).

It has two main security organisations:

  • The Directorate of Security and Resilience (DSR), predominantly focused on physical and personnel security
  • The Directorate of Cyber Defence and Risk (CyDR), predominantly focused on information and cyber security

These organisation work collaboratively to publish not only the internal rules, but also Defence Standards and Industry Security Notices (ISN)[8]

In April 2016, the MOD announced the creation of the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) "to protect the MOD's cyberspace from malicious actors" with a budget of over £40 million. It is located at MoD Corsham.[9][10]

MOD collaborates with the DSB over information and cyber security matters through a number of organisations, including:

  • Defence Cyber Protection Partnership (DCPP)[11]
  • Defence Industrial Security Association (DISA),[12] formerly the Guild of Security Controllers (GSC)
  • Team Defence Information (the current operating name for the UK Council for Electronic Business (UKCeB)), which is a not-for-profit, membership organisation whose mission is to transform secure information sharing for through life collaboration in defence acquisition and support.[13]

Former bodies in this category include:

  • DIPCOG, the Defence Infosec Product Co-Operation Group

National Cyber Force (NCF)[edit]

The National Cyber Force consolidates offensive cyber capabilities from the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ.

Law Enforcement[edit]

The National Crime Agency (NCA) hosts the law enforcement cyber crime unit, incorporating the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Former bodies in this category include:

  • National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU)

Wider Public Sector[edit]

The Wider Public Sector (WPS) covers both the Central Government and Law Enforcement categories that are itemised separately, but also elements such as:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Local Authorities

Within the WPS, there are a number of collaborative bodies, including:

  • Assurance Specialism Advisory Group (ASAG), which runs the SUAC series of Conferences
  • Cyber Technical Advisory Group (CTAG),[14] formerly the Public Sector IA Coordination Group (PSIACG)
  • Cyber Aware is a cross-government awareness and behaviour campaign which provides advice on the simple measures individuals can take to protect themselves from cyber crime.

Former bodies in this category include:

  • CIPCOG, the Civil Infosec Product Co-Operation Group

Regulatory bodies[edit]

Two regulatory bodies have a specific cyber security related function:

  • The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO),[15] leading on Data Protection (DP) for Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • OFCOM, leading on telecommunications and broadcast aspects of security

Most other regulatory bodies will have staff covering information and cyber security function for both their internal staff, and their client communities.


Work in academia on information and cyber security can be delineated into research and teaching.

Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research[edit]

NCSC has accredited several Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research:[16]

Professional bodies[edit]

  • Association of Cyber Forensics and Threat Investigators (ACFTI) is a not-for-profit, international professional organization focusing on the academics and research of cybersecurity, digital forensics, incident response, and threat investigations and their influence to the society. The vision of the association is to promote research and education in cybersecurity, digital forensics, incident response, and threat investigations fields and to contribute to the creation and dissemination of knowledge and technology in these domains.[17]
  • British Computer Society (BCS) is a professional body and a learned society that represents those working in information technology both in the United Kingdom and internationally. It has a security, data and privacy group.[18]
  • Business Continuity Institute (BCI) was established in 1994 to enable individual members to obtain guidance and support from fellow business continuity practitioners. BCI has a six certification standards to ensure individual practitioners literacy in organizations, responses, and other strategies.[19]
  • Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (CREST) is a Not for profit accreditation and certification organization.[20] CREST does not have its own study material and leverage on third party coursework so that the member can become certified. As of 24/8/2022, the cost of CREST membership is 5000GBP for membership of one country chapter and 25000GBP for a regional membership. On two occasions between 2012 and 2014, the examination-related activities of one of more NCC Group employees and candidates breached the CREST Code of Conduct and NCC Group was, as their employer, vicariously responsible for those individuals at the time
  • Cyber Scheme is a not for profit professional examination body under contract to the National Cyber Security Centre to provide technical exams in support of the government's assured penetration testing company scheme CHECK. The exams are independent and rigorous and are conducted for practitioner team member level and team leader levels.
  • Chartered Institute of Information Security (CIISec), formerly the Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP), is an independent, non-profit body governed by its members, with the principal objective of advancing the professionalism of information security practitioners and thereby the professionalism of the industry as a whole.
  • Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution, formed in 2006 from two separate institutions: the Institution of Electrical Engineers, dating back to 1871, and the Institution of Incorporated Engineers dating back to 1884
  • ISACA is an international professional association that deals with IT governance. Previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association.
  • (ISC)² is the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium is a non-profit organization which specializes in information security education and certifications.
  • Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) is a not-for-profit, international professional organization of information security professionals and practitioners. There is a UK chapter.[21]

Industry groups[edit]

  • ADS is a trade organisation for companies operating in the UK aerospace, defence, security and space industries.[22]
  • Asset Disposal & Information Security Alliance, ADISA
  • Crypto Developers Forum (CDF) promotes the global interests of the UK crypto development industry.[23]
  • IT Security Forum
  • Law Society
  • Nominet
  • TechUK, formerly known as Intellect, is a UK trade association for the technology industry.[24] It has a Cyber Security Group focused on “high threat” areas – including defence, national security and resilience, protection of critical national infrastructure, intelligence, and organised crime, chaired by Dr Andrew Rogoyski of Roke Manor Research.[25] The Security and Resilience Group works to build relationships between the technology industry and policymakers, customers and end users, and is chaired by Stephen Kingan of Nexor.[26]
  • Tigerscheme is a commercial certification scheme for technical security specialists, backed by university standards and covering a wide range of expertise.[27] Tigerscheme is CESG certified in the UK and candidates are subject to an independent rigorous academic assessment authority. Tigerscheme was founded in 2007 on the principle that a commercial certification scheme run on independent lines would give buyers of security testing services confidence that they were hiring a recognised and reputable company. In June 2014 the operational authority for Tigerscheme was transferred to USW Commercial Services Ltd.
  • UK Cloud Pooled Audit Group (UK CPAG) is a membership organisation consisting of the UK's largest banks. Established in 2020 with a mission to use the collective power of the banks to audit Cloud Service Providers such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft. The group is operated by the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists
  • UK Cyber Security Forum is a social enterprise representing cyber SME's (Small and Medium Enterprise) in the UK. The forum is composed of 20 regional cyber clusters around the UK. Each cluster is run as a subsidiary of the UK Cyber Security Forum and all are operated by groups of volunteers. They provide events around the UK to engage the public in cyber security and to provide continued professional development to cyber professionals. The official clusters are:
UK Cyber Clusters
Bristol and Bath Cyber
Bournemouth Cyber Cluster
Cambridge Cluster
East Midlands
Malvern Cluster
Norfolk Cyber Cluster
North East Cyber Cluster
North Wales
North West Cluster
N Somerset Cluster
Scottish Cyber Cluster
Solent Cyber Cluster
South Wales
South West Cyber Cluster (Exeter)
Sussex Cluster
Thames Valley Cluster
West Midlands Cluster
Yorkshire Cluster

Cross-sector bodies[edit]

Current bodies that cover multiple sectors include:

  • British Standards Institution (BSI),[28] the UK's National Standards Body (NSB), which not only produces British Standards (BS) and Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) in the areas of Information and Cyber Security, but also provides the UK interface into international Standards Development Organisations (SDO), including ISO, IEC, ITU-T, CEN, CENELEC, and ETSI. The main Expert Committees for BSI relevant to these topic are IST/33 (Information and Cyber Security) and ICT/003 (Trustworthy Systems)
  • Get Safe Online (GSOL) is a United Kingdom-based campaign and national initiative to teach citizens about basic computer security and internet privacy. It subsumed ITSafe.
  • National IA Forum (NIAF),[29] an independent committee of leading UK Public and Private Sector Information Assurance (IA) experts, which largely replaced the role of GIPSI
  • Trustworthy Software Foundation (TSFdn) [30] which is a UK public good activity aimed to encouraging good proactive in systems specification, realisation, and use, and providing related independent Organisational and Solution Conformity Assessments. It arose from the Trustworthy Software Initiative (TSI), previously the Software Security, Dependability and Reliability Initiative (SSDRI), and the Secure Software Development Partnership (SSDP), which were sponsored[31] by the UK government's NPSA, aimed at "making software better".
  • UK Cyber Security Council[32] is the self-regulatory body for the UK's cyber security profession. It develops, promotes and stewards nationally recognised standards for cyber security in support of the UK Government's National Cyber Security Strategy to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.
  • Warning, Advice and Reporting Points (WARPs) provide a trusted environment where members of a community can share problems and solutions.[33]

Former bodies in this category include:

  • Cyber Security Knowledge Transfer Network (CS KTN), as sponsored by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board)
  • Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC) worked across industry, government and academia towards ensuring the UK's information society has a robust, resilient and secure foundation.[34] The IAAC was set up by Baroness Neville-Jones who chaired the organisation until 2007,[35] handing over to the current chairman Sir Edmund Burton. Affiliates include BT Group, Northrop Grumman, QinetiQ, Raytheon, PwC, O2 UK, Ultra Electronics and GlaxoSmithKline.[36] The 2012/13 work programme focused on consumerisation and its effects on information assurance.
  • The Information Assuarnce Coordination Group (IACG) was formed following the UK's national IA conference in 2006.[37] The IACG encourages greater collaboration between the commercial supply base for information assurance products and services operating within the UK public sector.[38] The group maintained the UK information assurance community map,[39] hosted on the CESG's web site. It has two co-chairs: Colin Robbins of Nexor and Ross Parsell of Thales. The IACG ceased operation in 2014.
  • General IA Products and Service Initiative (GIPSI),[40] which was largely replaced by NIAF
  • ITSafe (IT Security Awareness for Everyone) was a former government-funded organisation that provided alerts, which was subsumed into GetSafeOnline
  • NDI was a former government-funded organisation building supply chains for the MOD and manufacturers using SMEs in the United Kingdom.[41]

International Linkages[edit]

Many of these categories will provide linkages from the UK to other nations' activities in cyber security, including:

  • Inter-governmental linkages
  • Defence links, in particular with NATO and the Five Eyes Allies
  • Standards links, predominantly through BSI
  • Community of Practice links, such as the Open Systems Software Foundation (OSSF)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ UK 'wholly' unprepared to stop devastating cyber-attack, MPs warn The Guardian
  2. ^ "EURIM".
  3. ^ "UK Cyber Security Strategy". HMG.
  4. ^ "GCSO". HMG.
  5. ^ HM Government (1 November 2016). "National Cyber Security Strategy 2016-2021" (PDF). Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Committees".
  7. ^ "OCSIA". Archived from the original on 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  8. ^ "ISN". HMG. 14 December 2023.
  9. ^ "Defence Secretary announces £40m Cyber Security Operations Centre". Ministry of Defence. 1 April 2016. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  10. ^ Hammick, Murray (30 October 2018). "The Budget and Defence". The Military Times. London. Archived from the original on 22 October 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  11. ^ "DCPP". HMG. 23 November 2023.
  12. ^ "DISA".
  13. ^ "UK CeB".
  14. ^ "Cyber Technical Advisory Group". Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  15. ^ "ICO - About". 20 November 2023. Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  16. ^ "Academic Centres of Excellence in Cyber Security Research". NCSC.
  17. ^ "ACFTI UK".
  18. ^ "BCS Security".
  19. ^ Kaye, David. (2008). Managing risk and resilience in the supply chain. London [England]: BSI Business Information. ISBN 978-1-62198-414-6. OCLC 849744629.
  20. ^ "Home".
  21. ^ "ISSA UK".
  22. ^ "ADS".
  23. ^ "CDF".
  24. ^ "techUK".
  25. ^ "Intellect Cyber Security". Archived from the original on 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  26. ^ "Intellect Defence & Security". Archived from the original on 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
  27. ^ "Home".
  28. ^ "BSI - NSB". Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  29. ^ "NIAF". Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  30. ^ "Trustworthy Software Foundation". Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  31. ^ Protecting and promoting the UK in a digital world: 2 years on – Government Press Release, retrieved 12 December 2013
  32. ^ "UKCSC". Retrieved 2023-12-24.
  33. ^ "WARP".
  34. ^ "IAAC". Archived from the original on 2018-04-10. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  35. ^ "IAAC - Neville-Jones".
  36. ^ "IAAC Sponsors". Archived from the original on 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  37. ^ "Establishment of the IACG". National Archives. Archived from the original on 2008-03-05.
  38. ^ "IACG Overview".
  39. ^ "IA Community Map" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  40. ^ EC2ND 2006 - Proceedings of the Second European Conference on Computer Network Defence, 2006
  41. ^ "NDI UK". Archived from the original on 2016-10-21. Retrieved 2013-08-21.