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NHS Digital to expand CareCERT cyber security focus

Neil Merrett Published 08 September 2016

Organisation aims to offer e-learning portal and assurance services to better assist health and social care organisations with improving resilience to potential system attacks


NHS Digital is to begin expanding its Care Computer Emergency Response Team (CareCERT) cyber security service as a means to improve the resilience of systems used in both health and social care provision.

Speaking at the second day of the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, innovation minister Nicola Blackwood said that testing will commence this month on new functions to help care organisations with better defending themselves against potential digital threats.

These services will include the provision of an e-learning portal, called CareCERT React, which is designed to train staff in cyber security basics to help secure patient information .  An assurance function for local organisations to test how their operations meet key security standards and outline how better to reduce service vulnerabilities will also be offered.

The other new addition, called CareCERT React, offers professional guidance and advice around reducing the impacts of data security incidents on health and social care providers to recover security effectively when compromised.

CareCERT was established last year by NHS Digital, known at the time as The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), to provide guidance around ensuring compliance with cyber security standards in systems supporting care providers.  It has been funded through the Cabinet Office National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP).

In announcing the expansion of the service, Blackwood said that cyber attacks on NHS targets were not always directly targeted at health data or systems and often come from broader threats impacting a number of sectors.  However, she argued that information relating to health and social care services needed to be protected at a very high level.

“NHS Digital’s CareCERT service will help over 1.3m NHS staff and those working in care staff boost their awareness and knowledge, as well as helping organisations improve their defences and keep valuable patient information secure,” Blackwood said.

 “If the worst should happen, the service will also help organisations respond as quickly as possible.”   

NHS digital chief executive Andy Williams argued that the expanded CareCERT services would apply to staff working across health and social care from chief executives in a boardroom to doctors and nurses on the frontline as a reflection of the importance of secure health information.

“Good digital security is key to all roles in health and care, and we want to give NHS organisations the benefit of our expertise in this area, so that we can promote best practice across the sector,” he said.

“We want to work with as many organisations as possible, and are seeking their feedback, so we can develop and test them according to organisations’ particular needs.”

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NHS Digital to expand CareCERT cyber security focus

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