On Tuesday 24 September, techUK brought together stakeholders from local government and the cyber security sector to assess the local government cyber security landscape and explore how industry and councils could work together more efficiently in order to secure local services.
Speakers at the event included Geoff Connell, CIO at Norfolk Council, and Charles Hodgson, from Civica. Geoff provided a thorough overview of the local government landscape.
Whilst attendees heard about the exciting nature of the local government digital scene and the growing digitisation of services in local government, it was quickly highlighted that much of this is currently being conducted under a tight fiscal environment, with most councils getting half of what they used to get before 2010. Coupled with the fact that it gets cheaper and cheaper to launch cyber attacks, and that many local government organistions are dealing with legacy infrastructure that they cannot afford to replace, and it's no surprise that more cyber attacks have affected local government over recent years.
That is the reason why the Local Government Association (LGA) conducted a nationwide stock-taking exercise to get a good map of where every local authority is on cyber security. The main outcome of this exercise suggests that local government cyber security remains a post-code lottery for some, with further funding available to help local authorities deal with specific issues that were identified as part of the exercise. Local councils have also been advised to get involved with their local WARPs (regional Warning, Access and Reporting Points), who are extremely valuable during cyber emergencies.
A recurring theme was partnerships, sharing good practice amongst councils and working with universities and industry. The strength of a partnership is evident when an incident occurs.
It was also identified that suppliers can add value by supporting local authorities developing capability, through e-learning tools, and bring in social value. Creating the right culture and having senior leadership buy-in is important in making cyber a priority for the council. In addition to solving the fundamental challenge around capability, councils and suppliers need to look at how services are designed.
There was a lot of discussion on how to bring service leads into the cyber conversation, as well as how to illustrate to councils what the latest innovations are. One suggestion was to hold an art of the possible workshop to bring together councils and suppliers to interrogate the challenges further and collaboratively look at what the innovation are.
If you would like to learn more about techUK’s local government programme contact Georgina Maratheftis and for our cyber activity Talal Rajab.