Social housing providers in the UK have been given access to a free cyber security toolkit as the sector aims to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.

Housemark has actively supported the move, with its Information Security Forum working alongside the government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to make this possible. Housing providers can sign up for a range of tools which are part of the Active Cyber Defence programme, which is provided to public sector organisations. This also includes local authority landlords and arm’s-length management organisations (ALMOs).

The toolkit is designed to tackle the high-volume commodity attacks that affect people’s everyday lives, rather than highly sophisticated and targeted attacks.

Access to the NCSC toolkit is seen as a key step in helping all social housing providers have access to tools that improve security and reduce the risk of cyber-attacks. This work has coincided with several high-profile examples of cyber incidents affecting social housing providers in recent months, where significant disruption has been caused by hackers gaining access to landlords’ IT systems.

Social housing providers can sign up for the tools from the Active Cyber Defence programme  through the NCSC website. This includes web check and mail check, which help defend against the most common cyber security threats, and PDNS (on a pilot basis) which helps block users from reaching malicious websites. The tools are designed to help individual social housing providers, and the sector as a whole, improve cyber resilience.

Arturo Dell, Associate Director at Housemark, said: “This is a hugely important and very welcome step by the NCSC. Members of the Housemark Information Security Forum have been working very closely with the NCSC to support this move and we are delighted that every UK social housing provider will now be able to benefit from these free cyber security services as a result.”

Sarah Lyons, NCSC Deputy Director for Economy and Society Resilience, said: “We are pleased to be offering a range of our pioneering services to the social housing sector to help providers boost their existing resilience to online threats. We strongly encourage organisations to sign up for the tools to help protect the vital work they do and reduce the risk of falling victim to the majority of common cyber-attacks.”