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Government commits millions to security investment

Spending Review adds more than £750m of funding to improve cyber security resilience across government

Westminster has committed to ploughing millions of pounds into cyber security in government in the shape of investments in the National Cyber Security Programme and in central and local government bodies, as the UK’s public sector comes under high and sustained volumes of cyber attacks.

The sums announced today in the 2021 Spending Review and Autumn Budget total over £750m and form part of a total investment of £2.6bn in cyber and legacy IT during the period of the Spending Review – most of which will be spent on improving the government’s own cyber security. It comes on top of already-agreed funding for the National Cyber Force, which is currently being stood up.

Prominently, the Spending Review provides for a £114m increase in the UK’s National Cyber Security Programme, which the government says will enable the UK to adapt, innovate and invest to maintain and extend its competitive edge as a “responsible, democratic” cyber power on the world stage. It comes ahead of the next iteration of the National Cyber Security Strategy, which is expected soon.

In pursuit of its post-Brexit “Global Britain” ideology, the government also gave details of a £100m-plus investment over the coming period to support improvements to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. This will enhance the department’s underlying technology platform and its cyber security infrastructure.

Meanwhile, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is to receive a £468m tranche of spending – on top of £98m already allocated in the 2021-22 financial year – to modernise its IT systems and improve the quality, resilience and security of its digital services. The government said the cash would be used to reduce the risk of system failures and enhance HMRC’s ability to defend itself against cyber attacks.

This department is one of the most frequently attacked by malicious actors, and is often spoofed by cyber criminals targeting the general public, so it has long led the way in setting security standards across government.

Finally, local authorities across the country will be able to receive a share of a £37.8m funding pot to tackle cyber challenges facing local councils and invest in improving resilience to protect front-line services and citizen data. Coupled with previously-announced funding during the 2020 Spending Review, this will bring the total funding for local government to £85.8m.

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