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Published: 15th February 2023 | In: Insights

Although every organisation in every industry needs to take steps to protect itself, its assets, data and customers, when it comes to cyber security the UK government deems Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) the highest priority. Without our energy providers, water and utility companies and communications networks running effectively and efficiently, other sectors could very quickly come to a grinding halt. The public’s health, the environment and the economy could be put at risk, leading to a long list of knock-on effects.

What is CNI?

The UK government describes CNI as: “Those critical elements of infrastructure (facilities, systems, sites, property, information, people, networks and processes), the loss or compromise of which would result in major detrimental impact on the availability, delivery or integrity of essential services, leading to severe economic or social consequences or to loss of life.”

CNI, which spans both the public and private sectors (most of the UK’s CNI is owned by private companies), is essential for businesses, government departments and charities to operate every day. We all depend on energy, food, water, transport, health care and communications to go about our daily lives. Every country faces the same fundamental risks to its infrastructure.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), places CNI into 13 main categories:

  • Chemicals
  • Civil Nuclear
  • Communications
  • Defence
  • Emergency Services
  • Energy
  • Finance
  • Food
  • Government
  • Health
  • Space
  • Transport

If any one of these essential functions were to be sabotaged or their services disrupted, or have intellectual property or data stolen, or fail in some way, even for one day, the damage done could be significant. If two or more were to be crippled at the same time then the consequences are unthinkable.

Benefits and risks

Before the advent of the internet and digitisation, the UK successfully secured its physical infrastructure for decades – and it must do this today alongside safeguarding the newer digital components. As well as the many benefits that digital technologies bring to businesses and to people’s lives, they also make our infrastructure vulnerable to the rising number of cyber threats we’re seeing from around the globe, which for several years have created an increasingly hostile digital environment.

CNI remains a priority target for financially-motivated cybercriminals – still the most common type of threat actors – and nefarious groups affiliated with nation states who may want to infiltrate or break key parts of our infrastructure as part of a wider strategy.

The NCSC is currently working with the government, CNI operators and academia to strengthen every aspect of the country’s infrastructure with the ambitious goal of making the UK the safest place to live and work online anywhere in the world.

Risk management

Cyber security companies play an important role in providing the skills, consultancy services, expertise and experience to assist all organisations in all sectors to defend themselves for known and evolving cyber threats.

At Quorum Cyber, although we’re a team of cyber security and technology experts and a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Security, we don’t see cyber security as a technology problem, we see it as a risk management problem. Our sole purpose is to reduce organisations’ overall risk.

Take a look at our services to see how we can help you. Feel free to contact us via our website, email us at [email protected] or call us on 0333 444 0041 to discuss anything related with cyber security.