MI5 and GCHQ team up with private sector

Government to work closely with cyber security professionals at UK's top companies to help protect them from attack

With cyber-attacks on the rise, MI5 has begun working with private companies in an effort to track down the sources and work on ways to protect their intellectual property.

According to the Guardian, the government is establishing a new 'fusion cell'. The new cell will see analysts from MI5 and GCHQ (the government's communication intelligence division) work with their counterparts from the private sector.

The cell is part of the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CIPS). The body was launched on Wednesday to provide the UK's core industries with a forum to share details of various techniques used to hack into their systems without the need to publicly reveal that their systems were compromised.

It will enable government and private sector experts to share methods for countering such attacks.

Up to 15 analysts will be working at the new cell, which is based at an undisclosed location in London.

"What the fusion cell will be doing is pulling together a single, richer intelligence picture of what is going on in cyberspace and the threats attacking the UK," one senior official told the paper.

"What we are trying to do is get that better intelligence picture and push it out to industry in a way that they can take action on, so it is very action-orientated."

CISP was formed after talks between industry and Prime Minster David Cameron in 2011. The pilot scheme saw 80 of the UK's key companies involved in an operation codenamed Programme Auburn.

According to the Guardian, it will be expanded to 160 firms from the finance, defence, energy, telecoms, and pharmaceutical sectors.

"Everything about information-sharing has to be based on trust," one official told the paper. "Most companies still remain cautious about talking about the cyber threats they face in public."

Participating companies will also have access to a highly secure social network which has been described as Facebook for cyber security professionals.

More companies are expected to be invited into the scheme in the future.

(Image courtest of Stephen R Walli under Creative Commons)

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