Andrey Popov -

UK’s McPartland Cyber Review to probe trust in technology

The UK government has launched a cyber security review that will investigate how best to give businesses the confidence they need to use new technologies

Improving trust and confidence among business leaders in existing and emerging technologies in the face of significant and sophisticated cyber threats will be the focus of the UK government’s newly launched McPartland Cyber Security Review.

Led by Stephen McPartland, Conservative MP for Stevenage in Hertfordshire, the review will see a team drawn from among government officials, IT and security experts and independent researchers explore the “transformative economic opportunities” cyber security can offer, reporting later in 2024.

It will centre the use of cyber security to enable trust in technology – such as generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) – that will let them digitise faster and remain competitive globally. It will also aim to increase support and demand for good cyber security practice, foster greater awareness of cyber security issues and tools, and minimise costs for businesses and consumers alike.

Speaking at a conference at Lancaster House in London – jointly hosted with the French government – on the controversial issues surrounding commercial spyware and surveillance tools, deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden said: “Our burgeoning cyber security industry continues to go from strength to strength, with our most recent estimates showing that the sector generates over £10bn in revenue – third only to the US and China – with exports also growing to over £5bn.

“In the room today I see several faces I recognise from innovative young UK companies, and I know the important role they and others play in making us safer, both online and off. The government recognises the huge potential for growth in this industry and the potential for cyber security to drive growth across all sectors of our economy,” said Dowden.

“That is why, alongside Michelle Donelan, the secretary of state for science, innovation and technology, I have asked the right honourable Stephen McPartland MP to lead an independent review to look at how we can shift the narrative and market incentives around cyber security to make this a reality,” he said.

The McPartland Review will form part of the government’s avowed commitment to “making the long-term decisions that change the country for the better”. Ultimately, it wishes to take a whole-of-society approach to cyber security, and believes that by doing so, it can establish the UK as a technology superpower in the field. As with many such initiatives, it supposedly complements the £2.6bn National Cyber Strategy, launched in 2022.

Pall Mall Declaration

The Anglo-French Lancaster House event brought together delegates from over 30 countries and across the tech industry to discuss ways to curb the proliferation of commercial spyware – such as the notorious Pegasus malware made by disgraced Israeli company NSO Group – and so-called “hackers-for-hire”.

The hosts hope to achieve an international agreement – the Pall Mall Declaration – that will govern the use of such technology, including guidelines on safeguards and oversight for intrusive software.

The meeting comes in the same week as US secretary of state Andrew Blinken introduced new visa and travel restrictions on individuals known to be associated with commercial spyware development.

“The US remains concerned with the growing misuse of commercial spyware around the world to facilitate repression, restrict the free flow of information and enable human rights abuses,” he said. “The misuse of commercial spyware threatens privacy and freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.

“The US stands on the side of human rights and fundamental freedoms and will continue to promote accountability for individuals involved in commercial spyware misuse.”

Read more about the UK’s cyber strategy

  • The UK’s Joint Committee on National Security Strategy is opening an inquiry into securing the democratic process ahead of the next general election.
  • The benefits of artificial intelligence to cyber criminals being well-known, the NCSC now assesses it’s likely AI will soon be widely used to enhance ransomware attacks.
  • The NCSC and its US counterpart CISA have brought together tech companies and governments to countersign a new set of guidelines aimed at promoting a secure-by-design culture in AI development.

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