UK Government Seeks Views to Bolster the Nation's Data Security

On Thursday, the UK government launched a call for views asking for assistance in its efforts to strengthen the country’s data infrastructure. With the ever-rising risk of cyber-threats and disruptions, bolstering the security and resilience of data centers and online cloud platforms is more pressing than ever, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 

Views are required on tools that are utilized in different regulated sectors. These tools include incident management plans, the act of notifying a regulator in the event services are  impacted or ensuring that a person, board or committee is responsible for security and resilience.

In particular, the UK government is inviting data center operators, cloud platform providers, data center customers, security and equipment suppliers and cybersecurity experts to participate. These parties can contribute insights into how best to mitigate security and resilience vulnerabilities. In doing so, the government can better understand how to address threats posed to data storage and processing services. Once completed, the UK government will use the information gathered to determine if further support or management is required.

The call for views will also ask companies which run, purchase or rent any element of a data centre to provide details of the types of customers they serve. 

Any new protections would build on existing safeguards for data infrastructure, including the Networks and Information Systems (NIS) Regulations 2018, which cover cloud computing services.

From 2013 to 2019, the number of companies investing in cloud computing services to store data more than doubled, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In fact, more than half of all businesses (53%) currently use cloud platforms.

Crucial data infrastructure ensures that millions of UK residents can make phone calls and send photos and messages. The government accepts proposals to assist small businesses in accessing affordable cloud platforms, an effective tool that makes up a large portion of necessary IT services. With so much of the economy dependent on said infrastructure, remedying disruptions or hindering their occurrence is a top priority.

“Data centers and cloud platforms are a core part of our national infrastructure. They power the technology which makes our everyday lives easier and delivers essential services like banking and energy,” stated Data Minister Julia Lopey. “We legislated to better protect our telecoms networks and the internet-connected devices in our homes from cyber-attacks, and we are now looking at new ways to boost the security of our data infrastructure to prevent sensitive data ending up in the wrong hands.”

At present, large computer systems that store and process significant data volumes are housed in physical structures. Additionally, cloud platforms, a critical component of data infrastructure, enable remote, shareable computing services to be readily available through the internet. The new proposals aim to protect this infrastructure against significant disruption.  

“The UK’s data infrastructure – through cloud platforms and data centers – underpins the digital technologies and services upon which all citizens and organizations increasingly rely,” said Julian David, CEO of techUK. “The technology sector already plays an important role in strengthening resilience across the UK economy and techUK welcomes the opportunity to engage with government on these significant issues.”

The eight-week call for views will run until 23:59 on Sunday July 24. Following this, the government will review the feedback provided and publish a response.

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