The minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, has warned that UK businesses aren’t doing enough to protect themselves from cyber security threats. According to official figures ninety percent of businesses suffered from of security breach in 2014.
With £1 in every £5 now earned online, cyber-attacks represent a genuine threat to the UK economy.
‘Good cyber security underpins the entire digital economy,’ says Vaizey, ‘we need it to keep our businesses, citizens and public services safe. The UK is a world leader in the use of digital technologies but we also need to be a world leader in cyber security. Trust and confidence in UK online security is crucial for consumers, businesses and investors. We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to do business online and Cyber Essentials is a great and simple way firms can protect themselves.’
Cyber Essentials is a government funded scheme to help companies tighten up their cyber security and Vaizey is urging business yet to sign up to take the opportunity whilst they can. With more than 1,000 businesses already on the scheme it is part of the government’s wider plan to establish the UK as the technology centre of Europe.
Cyber Essentials is in addition to the Cyber Security Innovation Voucher Scheme which provides SMEs with £5,000 grants to get expert advice on beefing up their cyber security.
The timing of the announcement coincides with the ongoing talks between the United States and China regarding the rules of engagement surrounding cyber warfare should hostilities break out. Whilst this could be the first eDoctrine of war that is unilaterally adopted by the UN, it does nothing to protect businesses from professional hackers and malcontents.
The statistics suggest that 74% of small businesses, and 90% of major businesses, has had a cyber-breach of security in the last year. These breaches range from minor breaches to full cyber-incursions. With tensions mounting in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea it’s reasonable to assume that technology, defence and aerospace companies will be the targets for government sponsored attacks.
Vaizey has also announced a £500,000 fund to encourage universities and colleges to develop innovative teaching and learning to provide the cyber security skills needed to protect the UK. Reports show the world is heading towards a staggering shortage of cyber security experts in the coming years.
The Government has invested £860 million since 2011 in protection for the UK through the National Cyber Security Programme. The Cyber Essentials scheme provides businesses with 5 controls that will prevent cyber criminals from exploiting weaknesses in IT systems and protect firms against the majority of online threats.
Some of the country’s biggest names have signed up to the Cyber Essential Scheme including Vodafone, Barclays and Babcock International which should go some way to prompting those organisations yet to take Cyber Security seriously into action.
In order to develop innovative solutions to cyber security, academic institutions can apply for up to £80,000, which must be matched by the institution, to improve teaching methods and fund research. The stipulation is that it must generate real-world impact across the discipline. The new fund will ensure higher education students get high quality, innovative teaching giving them the skills to protect UK businesses and Government against cyber-attacks in the future.
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