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Technology / #TEISS17: Why the government is investing £1.9 billion in cyber security

#TEISS17: Why the government is investing £1.9 billion in cyber security

Cyber security is a “tier-one risk” that “poses as big a risk to the country as things like terrorism or even international global conflict”, according to a government security expert.

Speaking to Business Reporter ahead of TEISS 2017, James Snook, deputy director for cyber security and information assurance at the Cabinet Office, explained why the government is investing £1.9 billion to help protect the UK against cyber attacks.

“Fortunately, we’ve not seen yet on UK soil the more extreme attacks, like the ability to turn off or disrupt central services,” he said. “But we do see that they can be done and there’s been evidence of this happening across the globe.

“So the government, which obviously considers the safety of citizens as one of its number one priorities, is committed to make sure we secure ourselves against cyber attacks.”

Announced by Philip Hammond in November, the investment will help secure public sector systems, increase the UK’s intelligence capabilities and “strike back” against hackers.

“There’s also significant investment in what I’d say is the nicer side to all of this, which is the opportunities that cyber security as an issue presents to the UK,” Snook said.

This includes work to promote the growth of the nation’s security sector, innovation venture capital funds and new training programmes.

“We have a schools programme, which is going to help our best and brightest, highest-potential students to become the cyber security experts of the future,” Snook explained. “We have an apprenticeships programme, which will help get new individuals into the workforce in key sectors like finance and energy.

“And we have a retraining programme that will help individuals retrain as cyber security professionals and help fill what is a pretty critical skills gap in the UK and globally in cyber security and the cyber security workforce.”

He added that the investment will also help emerging cyber security companies.

“The UK has a really vibrant start-up community on cyber,” Snook said. “We have a number of start-ups and SMEs that are doing some really exciting things that are struggling to find the investment they need to scale. We’re hoping to close that gap.

“We’re hoping to make sure that cyber security start-ups and established firms can actually access the skilled workforce they need to grow themselves.”

He said all these factors mean the UK has “great potential” in cyber security, and the investment will help the nation to develop in the sector.

“We’ve got brilliant universities,” he said. “We’ve got a really tech-savvy, digital-savvy workforce. We have a strong broader industry base – finance, tech, manufacturing – that are really crying out for these kinds of products and services.

“So we have real potential to be a world leader on cyber security as an industry, and the government is really committed to making us a world leader on cyber security.”


See James Snook speak alongside other industry experts at The European Information Security Summit 2017, taking place in London in February.

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