The UK Government Protective Marking Scheme (GPMS) was replaced with the new Government Security Classifications (GSC) system on the 2nd April 2014.
There is a risk that agencies and companies may not understand where their information sits on the sensitivity scale, leading to misclassification and greater exposure to risk. The new system is not as prescriptive as the old Protective Marking Scheme and the handling requirements for OFFICIAL are now a matter for individual organisations to decide. The trouble is that OFFICIAL covers a huge range of different sensitivities from only a little sensitive to just under, but not quite SECRET! Compliance with HMG IA Standard Numbers 1 and 2 – Information Risk Management (IAS 1&2) is no longer a mandatory requirement for government departments. 20 Risk Management Requirements (RMRs) that form mandatory policy on the management of information risk that all government departments had to follow.
Technical Risk Assessment and Risk Treatment Supplement that defined the mandated methodology to follow.
Government departments can now determine their own approach to information risk management based on their specific business requirements and risks. The requirement for assessing information risks in a structured way has not suddenly disappeared.
A mature understanding of the security risks throughout the organisation and, where appropriate, this will be informed by the National Technical Authorities.
A clearly communicated set of security policies and procedures, which reflect business objectives to support good risk management. Mechanisms and trained specialists to analyse threats, vulnerabilities and potential impacts, which are associated with business activities. Arrangements to determine and apply cost-effective security controls to mitigate the identified risks within agreed appetites.


So, information risk management is still a requirement, but how it is achieved is down to individual organisations. Conduct a bespoke risk assessment selecting a methodology that most suits the business need.
The IAS 1&2 Supplement includes a set of tables for measuring different levels of impact on a scale of 0-6. Impact remains a critical component of any risk assessment and using different impact levels (ILs) as a means of measurement remains perfectly valid.
Impact is just one component of risk, albeit a very important one, there are others to consider such as asset value, threat and likelihood. Organisations should still consider impact levels as part of a risk assessment process but be aware that impact is just one element that needs to be considered. The Ascentor blog provides further insight into the problems surrounding the use of impact levels and suggests how the problem can be addressed: What is ‘IL3’ and why are so many searching for it? If you have found this article of interest, the Ascentor blog regularly carries articles about cyber security and information assurance issues. If you’d like to discuss how our consultants could advise on any aspect of cyber security, please contact Dave James at Ascentor. Magpies are really easy to identify as they are the only medium sized bird with black and white plumage to be found in the UK.
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This is the first in a series of blog articles where Ascentor discusses some of the recent UK Government Information Assurance changes – and what they mean for you.


This classification replaces everything below the SECRET level meaning that the old UNCLASSIFIED, PROTECT, RESTRICTED and CONFIDENTIAL levels have disappeared.
It’s not as ‘black and white’ as it used to be – we think it’s more ’50 Shades of Grey’. They may choose to use the methodology defined in the IAS 1&2 supplement, but the major change is that they do not have to.
Now that organisations are no longer required to follow the methodology defined in the standard, there is the misconception that measurement of impact in a risk assessment is also not required. However, the impact levels defined in the IAS 1&2 Supplement were often misinterpreted and misused. Those that opt to continue to use the methodology defined in IAS 1&2 Supplement should take particular care not to use ILs as a means of conveying risk or security requirements. Can Stock Photo has the royalty free illustration, line art drawing, EPS vector graphic, or stock clipart icon that you need.
Written to be concise, they explain the essential ‘need to know’ facts and implications with links to read further should you wish.
There’s a handling instruction within the OFFICIAL classification called OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE for information that, as the name suggests, is leaning towards higher sensitivity and potential impact of loss. Our designers and illustrators provide royalty free stock images, clip art, clipart graphics, and pictures for as little as 1 dollar.



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