Infosec 2013: Cyber threats, challenge and opportunity for UK, says minister

Cyber threats are a challenge to UK businesses, but they also present exciting opportunities, says Cabinet Office minister, Chloe Smith

Cyber threats present an enormous challenge to UK businesses, but they also present exciting opportunities, says Cabinet Office minister for political and constitutional reform, Chloe Smith.

“UK cyber security companies can build new products, while other firms can use security of customer data to create a competitive edge,” she told the opening session of Infosecurity Europe 2013 in London.

Smith said there is every reason to believe that the UK can capitalise on the growing cyber security market place. “We have the potential to do well in cyber security,” she said.

One of the key areas of the UK national cyber security strategy, said Smith, is to build cyber security capacity, which includes stimulating the supply and demand for cyber security products and services.

She detailed several initiatives being funded out of the £650m pounds government has allocated to cyber security over four years, including identifying best practices and establishing standards.

According to Smith, the UK currently has around 2,300 cyber security companies that support more than 26,000 jobs and generates more than £3.8bn in revenue, including £800m in exports.

“It is clear that this is a growth sector the UK can capitalise on and government is doing all it can to encourage that through various partnerships with business,” said Smith, alluding to the recently-estabished Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP).

An initiative with technology association Intellect is focusing on ways to boost small businesses in the cyber security sector, Smith said.

It is also working to identify inhibitors to growth of the sector, to help firms to promote their status as government suppliers overseas, as well as looking at skills, research and development and funding.

Smith announced that as part of the government’s efforts to promote cyber skills, eSkills UK has developed a new syllabus focused on cyber skills for GCSE and A-Level to be introduced by September.

This, and other skills initiatives, will take time to filter through, said Smith, but she said government is introducing the right processes now to ensure the UK has enough cyber skills to protect local business in future.

Smith said government is making every effort to detect threats and protect UK interest in cyber space.

“We have to work with business to help the cyber security sector thrive and capitalise on growing demand for the benefit of the UK as a whole,” she said.

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