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How Socitm is helping councils improve cybersecurity

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By Matt Smith, Secretary of Socitm London, and Group Manager, ISfL (London’s public sector Warp)

Back in November 2016, Geoff Connell, President of Socitm, gave a presentation at the Information Security for London (ISfL) Annual Conference. He asked: “What could Socitm be doing to assist local authorities improve their cyber resilience?” Further discussions took place with ISfL and, subsequently, an idea started to form.

As a result of these initial activities, Socitm stood up the local government Cyber Technical Resource Group. The group was established to facilitate dialogue between the Local Government Association (LGA), National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG, formerly the DCLG) and the sector.

The group includes a number of local authority security managers, who represent their regional warning, advice and reporting points (Warps). One of the first things with which the group helped NCSC was the development of guidance for local authorities on election security.

We have been briefed on the various aspects of the NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence (ACD) programme and various other projects including the ‘Exercise in a Box’. This is extremely important, as we are able to take back information about these free tools to our regions. Subsequent implementation can only help to improve the cyber resilience of our sector – one of the group’s primary objectives.

We have also been able to assist the LGA with their secure email guidance and to contribute feedback to the Cabinet Office’s Public Services Network team on various topics, including the future of compliance.

Socitm’s involvement in the group ensures the views of Socitm members are heard and that we can continue to influence the national cybersecurity agenda. The group has been a useful sounding board to help shape Socitm’s proposal to the LGA for resourcing the sector’s role within the National Cyber Security Strategy.

At the group’s most recent meeting, which was held at NCSC’s offices, I was particularly pleased to be able to take my daughter along with me on work experience. NCSC welcomed her, as they are particularly keen to promote their CyberFirst competitions for girls as well as Women in IT – something that is very close to our hearts at Socitm.

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