THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced the lack of its Cyber Essentials scheme, which enables organisations and companies that handle sensitive and personal data to demonstrate that they are secure and trustworthy.
BAE Systems, Barclays and HP have already applied for a Cyber Essentials certificate.
Universities and science minister David Willetts said such attacks showed why the Cyber Essentials certification scheme is needed.
"The recent GOZeuS and CryptoLocker attacks, as well as the eBay hack, show how far cyber criminals will go to steal people's financial details, and we absolutely cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.
"Developing this new scheme will give consumers further confidence that business and government have defences in place to protect against the most common cyber threats."
Documents for the Cyber Essentials scheme [PDF] list boundary firewalls and internet gateways, secure configuration, access control, malware protection and patch management as the key areas firms must work on under the scheme.
To further promote its uptake, from 1 October the government will require any firms bidding for public-sector contracts that involve handling personal and sensitive information to have the Cyber Essentials certificate.
Insurers have backed the scheme, with Jamie Bouloux, cyber liability underwriting manager of insurance firm AIG, saying firms with the certificate could receive better rates than those without.
"AIG is pleased to support the Cyber Essentials scheme, which provides an effective way for organisations to manage essential cyber security risks.
"We will incorporate Cyber Essentials into our risk assessment process for new cyber insurance policies, offering preferential rates to those prospective AIG clients who have obtained a Cyber Essentials Certificate," he said.
The scheme is also backed by the Federation for Small Business (FSB), with Mike Cherry, FSB national policy chairman, saying the rising threat of cyber attacks made such a scheme a must.
"In the face of an ever-increasing threat of cyber attacks, the FSB supports BIS’s Cyber Essentials Scheme as an additional and important tool, designed to help reduce the risk to small firms and improve the resilience of the sector," he said.
The launch of the Cyber Essentials security scheme comes a day after, under plans outlined in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday, the government revealed plans to hand out harsher sentences to hackers. µ