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UK government Cyber Security Operations Centre going live soon

Whilst the UK cybersecurity centre – due to have around 20 members of staff under control of the Cabinet Office and located at GCHQ in Cheltenham – appears to still be in the process of being formed, the plan is for the unit to monitor the internet for threats to UK infrastrucutre and counter-attack when necessary.

In parallel with the creation of CSOC, the government is also setting up the Office of Cyber Security (OCS), a new unit in the Cabinet Office set up to co-ordinate the UK's cybersecurity policy.

Plans call for the OCS to be managed by senior civil servant Neil Thompson, who will oversee a similar number of staff to the CSOC, Infosecurity understands.

Neither GCHQ nor the Cabinet Office would confirm the date for the formal opening of the CSOC to Infosecurity, so we spoke to Tom Reilly, CEO of ArcSight, the security and compliance specialist, who told us the opening of the CSOC could not come at a better time for private and public sector organisations in the UK.

The network perimeter, he told Infosecurity, is evolving rapidly and, as a result, many organisations are starting to realise that it is not a case of their IT resource being defended against threats, but the fact that breach is highly likely and acting accordingly.

"You then start from the premise that your system has been breached and plan accordingly," he said, adding that adopting this strategy means that you can be prepared for a worst case scenario.

Some of the breaches that ArcSight has observed in the industry, he went on to say, have been very sophisticated, making their detection very difficult indeed.

As a result, he explained, you have to then assume that your systems have malicious code already on them.

And this is where the creation of the CSOC is so positive, he says, as the centre is all about collaboration between agencies, both in the public and private sector, and will bring together the various islands of IT security that already exist in the UK.

Whilst Reilly is at pains to point out that his company has nothing to do directly with the CSOC, he said that ArcSight has been working with a number of organisations on the pooling of IT security resources.

"We're seeing very good progress on this in the US – the initiatives there have been very positive. It's all about a community-based security approach", he said.

"Any government agency can hire the best security experts in the field but they won't have the knowledge that the community at large has. Pooling resources is all about tapping into this knowledge", he added.