Mark SayManaging EditorWednesday 29 November 2017

NHS Digital to push £20 million into cyber operations

Health service’s digital organisation provides funds as it seeks partner for new Security Operations Centre

NHS Digital has announced plans to pump £20 million into a new operation to strengthen cyber security in the health service.

Abstract - man holding digital locks against transparent screenThe provider of digital services for the NHS said the money will support work carried out by the Security Operations Centre – plans for which emerged in NHS Digital’s Capability Review published in July – and are aimed at improving the monitoring of national services across health and care.

A spokesperson for NHS Digital told UKAuthority that the existing Data Security Centre will run the Security Operations Centre, which will provide a “broader, better” offering. This will involve providing expertise to help out in the event of an incident.

The money, which will be spread over three to five years, will also beef up four operations currently provided by the Data Security Centre:

  • A monitoring service which analyses intelligence from multiple sources and shares guidance, advice, threat intelligence and remediation to relevant contacts in health and care.
  • On-site data security assessments for NHS organisations, to enable them to identify any potential weaknesses and to get the best value from local investment.
  • Specialist support for any NHS organisation which believes it may have been affected by a cyber security incident.
  • Ongoing monitoring of NHS Digital national systems and services.

NHS Digital said it is looking for a partner to support it with the project, with a contract tendered to run for three to five years.

Its Cyber Security Programme has been allocated £40 million up to 2020-21, and involves working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre.

Enhancement

Dan Taylor, head of the existing Data Security Centre at NHS Digital explains, "The Security Operations Centre will enhance NHS Digital's current data security services that support the health and care system in protecting sensitive patient information. 

"The partnership will provide access to extra specialist resources during peak periods and enable the team to proactively monitor the web for security threats and emerging vulnerabilities. It will also allow us to improve our current capabilities in ethical hacking, vulnerability testing and the forensic analysis of malicious software, and will improve our ability to anticipate future vulnerabilities while supporting health and care in remediating current known threats.

"By creating a national, near-real-time monitoring and alerting service that covers the whole health and care system, the SOC will drive economies of scale, giving health and care organisations additional intelligence and support services that they might not otherwise be able to access."

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0