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Volume 502: debated on Thursday 10 December 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will take steps to require utility companies which operate within his Department's remit to put in place resilience measures sufficient to prevent cyber-attacks rendering their services temporarily ineffective. (303801)

BIS leads on policy for critical infrastructure in the communications sector, which encompasses the postal and telecommunications sectors.

BIS maintains close working links with the telecoms sector on resilience, primarily through the EC-RRG (Electronic Communications Resilience and Response Group) which is industry-led but with Government and regulator representation. The aim of this group is to enhance the resilience of UK telecommunications systems to all types of hazard or threat, including cyber attacks. Part of the work of this group is to carry out exercises responding to emergencies, in order to ensure any recovery can take place as soon as possible. Additionally, CPNI (the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure) facilitates the Network Security Information Exchange, a forum for telecoms industry providers to share information and good practice specific to digital security.

The Digital Economy Bill also proposes measures to enhance investment in telecoms infrastructure and overall resilience (as part of a report on the overall health of the telecoms system in the UK). These measures will involve sharing information on resilience matters with Ofcom, who will then provide a report to the Secretary of State on the ability of the UK telecoms system to withstand shocks.

BIS also works closely with Royal Mail on resilience issues and ensures that the company liaises with the appropriate Government agencies (including CPNI) for advice on proportionate measures to protect postal operations from threats and hazards, including risks associated with cyber attacks, and to maintain business continuity.