Construction firms offered new cyber security guidance

Construction firms offered new cyber security guidance

Information security risks are particularly relevant to major infrastructure contracts

Construction firms working together on major building projects such as HS2 have been offered first-of-its-kind security advice from industry and government on how to better protect themselves from cyber attacks.

The new Information Security Best Practice guide aims to help these firms keep sensitive data safe from attackers by offering tailored advice on how to securely handle the data they create, store and share in joint venture projects.

The guide is a unique collaboration between experts from industry and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI).

It includes input from firms with experience in joint ventures, including major infrastructure contracts such as HS2 and Crossrail, where information security risks are particularly relevant due to their typically large size, value and complexity.

By following the recommended steps, businesses can improve their physical, personnel and cyber security, making themselves less attractive targets for malicious actors as threats – including ransomware – continue to pose a significant problem globally.

Sarah Lyons, NCSC deputy director for economy and society resilience, said: “Joint ventures in construction are responsible for some of the UK’s largest building projects and the data they handle must be protected to keep crucial infrastructure safe.

“Failure to protect this information not only impacts individual businesses but can jeopardise national security, so it’s vital joint ventures secure their sites, systems and data.

“By following this new guidance – a first-of-its-kind collaboration between industry and government – construction firms can help put a holistic strategy in place to effectively manage their risks.”

The guidance is a collaboration between government and industry members of a NCSC-convened trust group, bringing together expertise, experience and input from dozens of companies in the sector.

UK business minister Lord Callanan said: “Data and digital technology are key to making a more productive, competitive and sustainable construction industry. However, this new technology presents challenges that businesses must protect themselves and their stakeholders against.

“This new guidance, produced in partnership between industry and Government, will help construction firms keep their information safe, ensuring building projects are delivered on time and securely.”

The guide sets out why information security matters for joint ventures and offers a recommended approach to take to manage the risks, including:

  • Establishing information security governance and accountability within the joint venture and ensuring board-level engagement
  • Identifying staff to hold responsibility for assessing specific information security risks and developing a shared information security strategy
  • Understanding the specific risks and any regulatory requirements for the joint venture, and deciding on a shared risk appetite
  • Developing and agreeing on a shared information security strategy to manage and mitigate the risks holistically, including physical, personnel and cyber risks.

Globally, the construction industry continues to be one of the most targeted sectors by online attackers and businesses of all sizes are at risk.

Jon Ozanne, chief information officer at Balfour Beatty, said: “With cyberattacks becoming increasingly more intelligent, cyber security and protecting our own, our employees, our supply chain and customers’ data has never been more important.

“The introduction of the new Information Security Best Practice guide will play a key role in helping to combat the operational risks faced across the sector; raising the standard and educating those to the measures required to protect against cyber threats.”

Andy Black, chief information security officer, Sir Robert McAlpine, added: “Cross industry collaboration is important to help the construction sector level up its approach to information security. We are grateful for this opportunity to share our expertise and collaborate with our peers, the NCSC, BEIS and CPNI to develop this best practice guide for Joint Ventures.”

Earlier this year, the NCSC published cyber security guidance with the Chartered Institute of Building aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses improve their resilience.

Other NCSC resources aimed at helping organisations manage cyber security risks include the Board Toolkit, to facilitate essential conversations between board members and their technical experts, and the Exercise in a Box toolkit which helps organisations to test their incident response plans in a safe environment.

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