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NHS Wales to get free security services during coronavirus pandemic

NHS Wales Informatics Services enlists Thales to help it face down security threats and let its teams focus on the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis

The NHS Wales Informatics Services (NWIS) |IT team is leveling up its defences against cyber security threats through a partnership with Thales that will see it take advantage of a free package of cyber security services on offer during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

NWIS will be able to access Thales technical threat analysis service – which includes intelligence, identification, threat spread monitoring, analysis and rapid response skills – taking some of the pressure off its IT teams and leaving them free to support the critical systems doctors and nurses need to fight back against the virus.

“Partnership working between the Welsh public sector and the private sector has never been so important as we all work together to slow the spread of coronavirus,” said Ken Skates, minister for the economy, transport and North Wales at the devolved Welsh Assembly.

“Wales is playing a leading role in the rapidly expanding cyber security sector and the Welsh Government’s support for this vital area of work is evident, not least in our collaboration with Thales on the National Digital Exploitation Centre – our £20m cyber centre in Ebbw Vale, which is working to deliver the next generation of cyber talent in Wales.

“The Welsh government is calling on all businesses to respond to the huge challenges presented by this pandemic. I would like to thank Thales, and many companies like it, for their efforts which will help ease pressures on the NHS.”

Thales UK vice-president of secure communications and information systems, Gareth Williams, added: “In this highly unusual situation, we all need to work together to protect the vital services on which patients and NHS staff rely.

“France’s medical community has already made use of the threat intelligence service, and we’re proud to be working with our partners in the Welsh government so that NHS Wales can share our cyber information flow.”

Thales is just one of a number of organisations currently offering free cyber security services to the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic, others include BitDefender and Kaspersky, which are both offering time-limited services to healthcare sector customers.

NCC Group, meanwhile, is making its threat intelligence services from its Netherlands-based Fox IT intel team available to national computer emergency response teams (Certs), hospitals, and public health institutions.

This package includes executive briefings, threat actor descriptions, training in how to apply threat intelligence to IT systems, information on targeted ransomware in hospitals, a technical indicator of compromise (IoC) pack related to targeted ransomware threat actors, and regular updates on their activities.

A team of analysts and incident responders is also on call to answer both general questions and help out in emergencies.

“The world’s healthcare systems are increasingly reliant on technology, and building resilience is crucial to enable individual organisations to focus on delivering care and providing guidance without disruption,” said Krijn de Mik, head of the Fox IT research and intelligence fusion team.   

“In this challenging time, we believe it is more important than ever to share the tools and knowledge that we have developed, to help global healthcare systems continue to carry out their vital work. It’s our way of saying thank you to those who are working hard to keep us safe at this time.”  

Read more about NHS IT during the Covid-19 pandemic

  • The Covid-19 outbreak has led to huge amounts of work for NHS Digital, shifting its priorities and creating unprecedented demand for products and data, but it has also had a positive impact, says CEO Sarah Wilkinson.
  • Media design and technology graduates from Bradford University’s Working Academy are helping the NHS in the city manage patients and clinicians.
  • Digital platforms provided by the health service are attracting many more users as a result of social distancing and the need to provide services remotely.

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