The whole subject of cyber security is growing in prominence across the UK – indeed across the world. It is recognised as a significant challenge to organisations and national economies, and with the key role that Universities play in research and education they are as vulnerable as any other sector. Universities own areas of intellectual property of immense value and theft of that intellectual property would be an issue not just for the Universities concerned, but for the wider economy as well.
The UK Government’s National Security Strategy lists “hostile attacks upon UK Cyber Space” as amongst the top 4 priority risk areas next to terrorism, war and major accidents/natural hazards.
In November 2011, the Cabinet Office published a “UK Cyber Security Strategy”
This strategy sets out how the UK Government will tackle the threats, but also in a way that ensures that “. . cyberspace remains an open space – open to innovation and the free flow of ideas, information and expression.”
That’s important for Universities. We are very open communities, with large student populations, members of the public, and staff involved in a wide range of activities. Our IT infrastructure needs to be open enough to permit all of that, but secure enough to protect important information resources, personal and confidential information.
Like many organisations, we will be keeping our security measures under constant review, particularly in the light of growing cyber security threats. We want to make it easy for staff and students to access our systems but there will always be the need for some security and it is important that all of our users respect this and follow guidelines and instructions where they are provided. You may feel that you are not involved in anything that is secret or confidential. If you are connected to our network, however, you are just as likely to be a target and if you don’t follow security guidelines your equipment could provide an easy entry point for an attacker.