The UK government has released a National Cyber Strategy to help guide the country’s strategic approach to combating the proliferation of cyber threats. As part of this strategy, the UK government is looking to expand its regulations under the Network and Information Systems (NIS) to include managed service providers (MSPs). The government’s efforts follow a string of supply chain attacks targeting SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange Servers and the Colonial Pipeline. The UK government has highlighted a number of barriers to proper management of supply chain risks, including low risk recognition, limited visibility and insufficient expertise and tools to evaluate suppliers.
This strategic move by the UK government involves widening the scope of the NIS regulations to include MSPs. Original NIS regulations came into effect in 2018 to optimize cybersecurity offerings provided by companies within the essential services industries – water, energy, transport, healthcare and digital infrastructure. Expansion of the NIS regulations to include MSPs informs part of the UK government’s broader strategy to improve the country’s overall cyber resilience.
MSPs provide critical digital outsourcing services for IT departments and manage key business processes for many organizations. As such, MSPs play a vital role in promoting a digital-first economy. The UK government wants to ensure MSPs are fully prepared to manage ongoing cyber threats and protect the data integrity of their customers.
As the UK government moves forward with its plans, part of its proposal involves defining what an MSP does, from a commercial perspective. Under the proposed regulations, MSPs could be required to enact reasonable and proportionate security measures to protect their network and proactively manage the risks associated with services provided to customers. As of late, the NIS regulations that are being proposed could carry reporting requirements and heavy fines for those MSPs that don’t comply.
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