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Cybersecurity funding to escape public spending cuts

A top government official says the national cybersecurity budget is expected to rise, but the country's information security success may still depend on the private sector.

LONDON -- The battle against cybercrime is likely to be one of the few areas to escape spending cuts when the government's Comprehensive Spending Review is published on October 21 for fiscal year 2011.
Our message to government is that we need more capacity to be effective.

Graham Wright,
deputy directorUK Office of Cyber Security

The confident prediction came from Graham Wright, deputy director of the UK Office of Cyber Security (UK OCS) (.pdf), speaking Wednesday at the Gartner conference on risk management. He said the government has given assurances that, while most departments will need to accept reductions in their budgets, the cybersecurity UK budget will actually be increased.

But, as Wright explained, with a team of just 14 people in the UK OCS, it has little scope for a reduction. "Our message to government is that we need more capacity to be effective," he said.

Much of that new capacity will come through a public-private partnership with industry, Wright said, although the full terms of any engagement still need to be laid out. In addition, the government's head of security, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, will soon be rallying "captains of industry" to throw their weight behind efforts to defend critical national infrastructure and to drive down crime.

Wright outlined how the government's Cyber Security Strategy (.pdf), published in June 2009, will be translated into a plan of action. He said responsibility for pushing out the cybersecurity message will be spread across several government departments. "The Department of Education needs to be involved, as does the Home Office and Defence as well," Wright said. "The aim is to create a holistic cross-government programme."

On the details of the government's cybersecurity strategy, Wright said preventing Internet fraud is now the top priority. As Internet policing is due for another shake-up with the creation of a proposed National Crime Agency that will encompass Internet crime as part of its remit, Wright said his office will lobby for more money to be allocated for fighting Internet crime.

Funding for the Police Central eCrime Unit, formed two years ago under the Labour government, was generally considered to be inadequate for the task, and far less than the police had wanted.

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