An introduction to Cyber Security Awareness Month 2023

Matt Palmer, JCSC Director

Ahead of Cyber Security Awareness Month 2023, Director Matt Palmer reflects on the work of JCSC over the last year.

A changing global picture

In the last 12 months, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has extended to all-out cyber war, in addition to kinetic warfare. Hybrid attacks, with cyber often as a precursor or distraction, have impacted government services, communications, transport, finance and civil society. We are isolated from much of this in Jersey, but it is no less real and no less destabilising. It is increasingly difficult to separate activity hackers and organised crime from nation state activity in cyberspace. Even the lines between physical space and cyber space are themselves blurring: Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents new threats, but also new opportunities.

We don’t know yet what this means for us, but we do know that this is the beginning of an historic shift in how we use and depend on technology – so we must try to be prepared, and to see this change as an opportunity as well as a threat.

Our work over the last year

At Jersey Cyber Security Centre (JCSC), we have spent much of the last year preparing. The year has also involved responding to incidents and supporting local organisations who have experienced attacks. This has included schools, Government, financial services providers, hotels, retailers and voluntary groups.

We have also been busy standing up technical and operational capabilities that will allow us to begin to defend Jersey effectively: we are now at the operational readiness we promised when we were set up.

One example is the launch of our Jersey Cyber Shield, which has been a year in planning and development. Jersey Cyber Shield allows us obtain, analyse and respond to global threat intelligence to protect local people and organisations. It does so by bringing together large numbers of data sources, systems and platforms.

We have also launched our first Jersey Cyber Benchmark survey. The results of the survey will allow us to better understand the Island’s collective strengths and weaknesses. It will therefore help us to develop our operational priorities, as well as providing valuable input for the Government of Jersey’s forthcoming Cyber Strategy

The team has been working closely with the Government of Jersey on issues from cyber security legislation to telecoms security rules. In addition, we have undertaken a public consultation on proposed legislative change to provide a strong platform for effective cyber defence. We look forward to the draft Cyber Security (Jersey) Law being brought forward in 2024.

Working in collaboration

We have also been working with colleagues both around the world and closer to home. Jersey Cyber Security Centre (JCSC) is now part of TF-CSIRT, a European network of national Cyber Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).

We are also applying for membership of the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST), a global body which brings together a variety of computer security incident response teams. Membership of these organisations provides the team with great opportunities for collaboration and information sharing.

Closer to home, we are also working with UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and with the other Crown Dependencies, the Isle of Man and Guernsey.  Later this year we will carry out our first ever Channel Islands incident response exercise, working with governments in both Jersey and Guernsey.

This exercise will give us an opportunity to explore how prepared the islands are for a cyber security attack, and identify areas where we can work together to prepare and respond effectively

Last year, I said it takes an Island to secure an Island. This has never been more true, and none of this would be possible without the support of Government of Jersey, the States Assembly, Ministers (notably Deputies Kirsten Morel and Alex Curtis), the Department for the Economy, the huge range of local partners we work with on a daily basis, the voluntary sector, and – of course – the Jersey community.

We can now begin to see the impact of that support in the work we do to help Islanders to prepare, protect and defend themselves and their organisations, but this is no time for complacency.

We all have much more to do if we are to be ready for tomorrow’s challenges.