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Infosec 2012: Government committed to raising cyber security awareness, says Willetts

The UK is facing the challenge of deriving economic and social value from the internet, says Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.

The UK is facing the challenge of deriving economic and social value from the internet, says Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.

"The UK has an international role to play in shaping an open and stable cyberspace," he told attendees of Infosec Europe 2012 taking place in London.

Willetts, whose responsibilities include cyber security issues, said government is committed to raising awareness of cyber security threats in business.

"I have been shocked to see that some big businesses still do not seem to realise that it is important to protect intellectual property," he said.

Willetts said government's allocation of £650m over the next four years shows its commitment to improving cyber security, but there is a lot to be done.

However, he said, the UK has several strengths that sets it apart, he said.

First, the UK does not treat cyber security as a purely military issue. Second, the UK does not treat cyber security as a purely government responsibility.

"We believe a partnership with the private sector is important if we are to get this right," said Willetts.

To that end, he announced government plans to fund a survey of information security breaches from 2013, and called on UK business to be frank and honest about what is happening.

"A decade ago banks used to be coy about fraud, but the attitude has changed. We need to see a similar change in UK business to be open about cyber threats and attacks," said Willetts.

In the light of the fact that there is no such thing as perfect security, he said, UK businesses need to identify the information assets with the greatest value, they need to manage the risk of loss, and they need to assign appropriate levels of security investment.

"UK businesses must educate their employees about security risks and ensure they are in a position to identify, respond to and mitigate those risks," he said.

Government is committed to helping senior executives to focus on cyber security, said Willetts, to ensure that their organisations are as cyber secure as possible.

"We will work with all business sectors to give them the support they need," he said.

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