UK must get its cybersecurity act together, says David Blunkett

Government is paying lip service to cybersecurity, yet cutting essential services at the same time, says David Blunkett, MP and chairman of the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance.

The government is paying lip service to cybersecurity, yet cutting essential services at the same time, says David Blunkett, MP and chairman of the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance.

With the publication of the new national cybersecurity strategy, the government is talking the good talk, but its capacity to protect data remains fragile, he told attendees of the Govnet Cyber Security 2011 conference in London.

By cutting back on UK police forces and taking £90m out of the civil service training budget, the government is severely impacting on the ability to raise awareness and build capacity in data protection, said Blunkett.

From the number of data breaches in the past year alone in both the public and private sectors, it is obvious that everyone is still learning what they need to do to protect themselves from attack, he said.

“But we are all in it together, and to move forward we need to replicate in cyberspace what we are doing in the physical world around security, with government, law enforcement and civil society all doing their bit,” said Blunkett.

Car theft has been reduced, he said, only by the car owners, car park managers and car manufacturers all adding some element of security.

“But we are not yet used to acting in the same way in information security; we have yet to get our act together, and that must change,” he said.

Despite his criticism of the government cutbacks and its failure to keep the momentum of the Get Safe Online initiative going by combining it with efforts to get more people online in the UK, Blunkett said the new cybersecurity strategy demonstrated some “imaginative thinking” and noted plans to revamp Get Safe Online in 2012.

But he said there is a danger that new cyber organisations and law enforcement authorities could undermine the work of exiting groups if not enough attention is given to co-ordinating their efforts.

The International Cyber Security Protection Alliance is working with Europol to see how to share the challenge and help each other.

“The weakest link will affect us the most; our task is discover how best to put all the elements together in a national and transnational effort,” said Blunkett.

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