Brexit will make UK more vulnerable to cyber attack, say security pros

A third of security professionals are concerned that a Brexit vote will hamper cyber threat intelligence sharing with EU states

More than a third of information security professionals fear that leaving the European Union (EU) would make the UK more vulnerable to cyber attacks, a survey has revealed.

They are concerned because Brexit will mean that they would no longer benefit from intelligence sharing with other EU states, according to the survey by security firm AlienVault.

The research, which polled around 300 information security professionals at the 2016 Infosecurity Europe conference in London, also found that 78% of those surveyed do not believe that their jobs would be made any easier by the UK leaving the EU.

More than a fifth actively support EU legislation around data protection and believe that it benefits them and their work. Some 52% pointed out that UK organisations would still have to comply with EU legislation to do business in Europe, even if the electorate votes in favour of Brexit.

Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault, said with the EU referendum just days away, the IT security industry seems to be siding with the ‘remain’ camp.

“Rather than offering an escape from the EU’s red tape, most people believe that they would still have to negotiate their way through complex legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR], even if Britain does leave the EU,” he said.

Malik also notes that a “significant proportion” of those surveyed believe being part of the EU benefits them and their work.

“This is especially true of the industry’s attitudes towards intelligence sharing between EU states. Cyber attackers pay no attention to geographical boundaries, transcending borders and jurisdictions to maximize malicious effect,” he said.

“The truth is that we can provide a stronger and more robust defence against emerging threats by working together and sharing information.”

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While two-thirds of those polled believe the data held by their organisations will not be affected by a Brexit, a quarter said they were concerned that the corporate data held by their organisations would be less secure, and 22%felt the same about the customer data held by their organisations.

“The GDPR is due to come into force in 2018 and has the potential to significantly alter the way businesses handle data. At more than 200 pages long, the regulation is possibly the most wide-ranging piece of legislation ever passed,” said Malik.

“But many infomation security professionals seem to view the legislation in a positive light, believing that stipulations such as ‘data protection by design’ will make the data held by their organisations more secure.”

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