The challenge areas

We are looking to identify, develop and demonstrate innovative solutions in the areas outlined below. The challenge areas have been chosen to broadly align with challenges identified through dialogue with industry partners and stakeholders, and through the National Cyber Security Centre problem book.

Recent cases of Ransomware for example can rapidly spread through IT systems and networks, taking down operations and having an impact through the supply chain of interdependent organisations. This is difficult to predict and requires new solutions to understand interdependencies as well as forecast and calculate the impact of failure on wider systems and supply chains.

Organisations often aim to develop and implement cyber security policies but do not have suitable solutions to track and report on their actual security posture w.r.t these policies. This is particularly an issue for operational technology in sectors such as energy, utilities and manufacturing. New solutions are needed to model and map process and technology deployments to expectations – both in-house, and in terms of best practice/regulation including CAF/HSE OG86 as examples. Having data is not sufficient. These solutions need to give “advice” to people on the ground, as well as support decisions on where and how to invest in cyber security improvements.

With the development of Generative AI, we are going to see a future where attacks can evolve on their own after deployment, continually learning how to locate and exploit cyber vulnerabilities. New solutions will be needed to learn how to defend against these attacks. In the same way we have seen strategic games learned using systems such as DeepMind’s AlphaGo developments – this will need to happen in the context of digital systems. We are seeing the demand for this with DSTL’s Automated Reinforcement Cyber Defence (ARCD) framework investments, and the UK needs a strong supply chain of companies who can contribute to this.

Ransomware spreads quickly, and WannaCry showed us how this can impact critical services such as the NHS very quickly and without warning. Before we get to a point where the reality of fully automated cyber defence is matured, there are some quick wins we can make in managing ransomware in an automated fashion – by blocking / killing / suspending processes that are deemed malicious. Solutions need to detect ransomware early, and stop the damage – while also not disrupting business.

The combination of hardware and software that monitors and controls physical processes, such as industrial machinery and infrastructure. OT cybersecurity focuses on securing these critical systems from cyber threats that could impact safety, production, and infrastructure.

This involves safeguarding the digital assets and sensitive information of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as individuals from cyberattacks. It includes implementing security measures to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and other cyber threats.

The organised approach taken to manage and mitigate the aftermath of a cybersecurity incident. For SMEs and citizens, incident response includes strategies to identify, contain, eradicate, and recover from cyber incidents, minimizing potential damage and ensuring a swift recovery.

Encryption is applied to the data and communications within Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This ensures that data transmitted between interconnected industrial devices and systems remains confidential and secure, protecting against unauthorized access and tampering.

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