Procurement · 2 November 2016

Government throws £1.9bn behind cyber security

cyber security
The chancellor has stressed the importance of cyber security in generating economic growth

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a new cyber security strategy for the UK, pledging to invest £1.9bn over five years to strengthen the country’s digital defences.

The strategy sets out government plans to enhance cyber security until 2021, identifying three central pillars needed to protect the UK in the long-term.

Hammond stated in the strategy’s report that the government will invest money into “defending our systems and infrastructure, deterring our adversaries, and developing a whole-society capability” to protect Britain’s businesses and individuals from the threats of cyber crime.

In a speech announcing the strategy, the chancellor stressed the importance of cyber security in generating economic growth.

“We need a secure cyberspace – and we need to work together with business and government to deliver it.

“If we want Britain to be the best place in the world to be a tech business, then it is also crucial that Britain is a safe place to do digital business,” he said.

The strategy will involve working with specialists such as security services firm Netcraft to “understand why many organisations still fail to protect themselves adequately”.

The government stated its intention to collaborate with insurers, regulators and investors “which can exert influence over companies” to ensure that cyber risk is being effectively managed.

As part of the strategy, a new national cyber security centre has been opened, providing a hub of expertise to businesses as well as acting as a response-source to major cyber breaches.

Commenting on the new strategy, Christine Andrews, managing director at data protection company DQM GRC, stated that although government intervention was welcome, educating staff internally over the security threats to a business was of equal importance.

“The most common and destructive mistakes are often due to human error – not state-sponsored, powerful cyber attacks.

“For example, even the simple loss or theft of a USB stick or laptop containing personal information about the business could seriously damage your organisation’s reputation, as well as lead to severe financial penalties,” she said in a statement.

A former hacker, Robert Schifreen, who was arrested in 1985 for breaching British Telecom security and now runs security awareness programmes for small companies, agreed that business owners should first look within their own firms in order to effectively combat cyber threats.

He said in a statement: “There have been huge advances in the ways attacks are carried out and the methods that are adopted by cyber criminals. Lack of awareness, not just amongst business owners but their employees as well, is a huge part of the problem.”

According to the government-commissioned Cyber Security Breaches survey for 2016, less than a fifth of business owners provided cyber security training for their staff in the past year.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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