Newly created unitary authority, Buckinghamshire Council, protects five local authorities under one managed security service.
Cybersecurity professionals perform great acts of balance across the world. They are required to work with finite resources to protect sensitive data and this is never truer
than when it comes to local authorities. The challenge therefore of providing oversight to five separate local authorities (Aylesbury Vale District Council, Buckinghamshire County Council, Chiltern District Council, South Bucks District Council, and Wycombe District Council), each having separate processes is a true mountain to climb.
The team at Buckinghamshire Council tackled this through use of a Managed Security Service. The service was launched successfully during the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring that an extra layer of security and reassurance was added at a critical time. Tony Ellis, Service Director ICT at Buckinghamshire arrived at the council, with a view to doing something different, moving from a reactive to a proactive mindset,
Tony Ellis commented
“It was clear when I arrived that the council was utilising a great selection of tools to monitor the health of the network. The problem here was that the tools that were in use were numerous, hard to configure and providing many alerts each day, all of which had the team moving in different directions. We needed oversight and one tool that could be plugged in to help us manage operations”.
Battling against limited resources, Tony and the wider team knew that they wanted to do something different and this is where Hytec and the Managed Security Service stepped in. The overarching desire here was to be proactive when it came to cybersecurity rather than reactive, battling threats before they arrived.
A Trusted Partner
With a small team and finite resources, making the most of everything is essential and this is where having a trusted partner can mean the difference between threats being seen early or missed. Thankfully for Buckinghamshire, an established relationship had been created through Hytec’s assistance of the council’s PSN compliance and Cyber Essentials certification.
Trust takes years to develop and when you are placing your faith in a third-party organisation, as Buckinghamshire is, then it is a critical decision. Through work undertaken within Cyber Essentials and PSN Compliance, Hytec proved that they had the knowledge and experience required to move the council’s cybersecurity operations to the next level.
Tony Ellis commented;
“It’s like having a trusted partner who is keeping an eye on us, filtering through alerts, ensuring that we have more time to focus on other tasks and respond to key threats only. Hytec know the industry, as well as the team, they know what behaviour to look for to ensure that they protect us from ‘alert fatigue’.”
The Managed Security Service
The Managed Security Service is the culmination of years of experience. It is Hytec’s offering to local authorities across the country to help them move from a reactive to proactive mindset and avoid data breaches. In an average month, the Managed Security Service monitors more than 100 million events that relate to Buckinghamshire Council.
These events are then analysed through the Managed Security Service, which passes relevant alerts to Hytec to investigate, in turn passing on only those alerts that are of relevance. More than 98% of the alerts that were generated could be filtered out by Hytec before they even reached Buckinghamshire, saving time and money.
Phishing stopped in its tracks
While other Local Authorities were impacted by a widescale phishing attack, with the massive impact lasting weeks and negative media coverage. Buckinghamshire Council were able to identify and stop a phishing attack within 30mins. This removed the threat and saved weeks of work undoing the damage that would have been needed if the attack had been successful.
One platform, one network
At the start of 2020, five local authorities merged into one, to create Buckinghamshire Council, covering its combined 546,000 population. This change created many challenges from a cybersecurity point of view, first and foremost being how to merge all the systems and connect all of these components together. With each local authority arriving at the table with different systems in place, the task of safely connecting them all was one that was critical to consider. Careful planning alongside gradual integration, one component at a time was the order of business here. The move towards a single platform is one of discovery, but one that Buckinghamshire are confident in their ability to deliver.
Tony Ellis commented:
“Working with Hytec we have been able to integrate the Managed Security Service into the overall operation of the new unitary authority. It was a challenge and there are still learnings to be made but with an adaptive system, we are moving to a proactive frame of mind. We see working with Hytec as a long term approach not just a short term fix”
Working from home
2020 was a challenging time for the world as a whole and none more so than for the world of cybersecurity professionals. For the team at Buckinghamshire, the year started with the move towards a unitary authority and one network, connecting legacy products together to give a consistent view of threats to home working. This quickly escalated during the month of March, when the need to connect more than 3,000 workers at home arose.
Covid-19 required the council to move all employees from the office to their homes. This required logistical thinking, in terms of personal devices connecting out of traditional working hours and approved connections to new sources. All of which can be a challenge but through the application of the Managed Security Service and Hytec’s expertise the move has been a relatively trouble-free one.
Tony Ellis commented
“It’s never about removing risk altogether as that is impossible. It is about managing it in the best way possible and with the Managed Security Service we have been able to do so, under the most challenging of circumstances. Hytec keeps their finger on the pulse and understands the additional considerations that emerge when you move to home working.”
The statistics of Buckinghamshire's Managed Security Service
- 100 million events captured by the MSS service
- 1,318 alarms investigated by Hytec
- 21 investigations initiated and remedied
- 1.6% of events requiring client attention
*Figures taken from April 2020
About Hytec's Managed Security Service
Cyber Security Managers in Local Authorities, Health and Healthcare suppliers have their hands full trying to ensure their organisation doesn’t become yet another headline-grabbing example of a damaging cyber-attack. It’s an uphill battle and judging from the rapidly growing number of victims, it’s a battle many are not winning.
Hytec’s partnership approach to enterprise cybersecurity offers a distinctive service that aims to raise levels of cybersecurity to those appropriate for the local government and health environment.
Designed by necessity, the service addresses the very particular set of issues faced by local authorities and other public sector and 3rd sector organisations.
Working in security and information governance for over two decades Hytec has established a comprehensive, best in breed Managed Cyber Security Service that will significantly enhance the protection of systems/data, help achieve your compliance requirements and ensure appropriate security mechanisms are in place.
Hytec provide the following services:
- Managed Cyber Security Service
- Cyber Essentials Plus Certification
- NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit
- Information Governance
- Specialist hosting
- Secure Infrastructure design
- Cybersecurity consulting