A government priority

In a recent speech, the Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey MP outlined the UK Government’s position on cyber security. 

“Good cyber security underpins the entire digital economy,” the Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey MP claimed in a recent speech. Outlining the government’s position on cyber security, Vaizey claimed that its whole strategy revolved around partnerships with the private sector to bring both shared understanding and practical outcomes to fruition.

Vaizey claimed that good cyber security was essential to ensure that the United Kingdom’s citizens, businesses and public services remained safe. He claimed that because the UK is a world leader in the use of digital technologies it must also strive to be regarded as a world leader in cyber security.

Since launching the National Cyber Security Programme in 2011, the Government has invested £860 million to protect and promote the UK. Thanks to this programme and working in partnership with the private sector business understanding and response to cyber security is starting to improve.

“We are getting cyber security out of the IT department and into the boardroom,” said Vaizey. “However, despite good action being taken, the scale of the cyber threat is still significant. 74 per cent of small businesses and 90 per cent of large ones had a cyber breach in the past year. These breaches can be hugely costly and damaging to businesses.”

Referencing the recent data breach at TalkTalk, Vaizey urged all companies on the FTSE 350 to partake in the cyber governance health check. The health check is a partnership between the government and the audit committee designed to help the UK’s top firms understand and improve their level of cyber security. 88 per cent of FTSE 350 firms now include cyber security in their risk register but Vaizey urged every firm to take part.

Another government scheme mentioned by the Minister and established to set out clear basic standards for cyber security is cyber essentials. “I want to be very clear about this,” said Vaizey. “Cyber essentials isn’t just for the large prime firms – it also helps them to manage their third party risks. We now require suppliers of most of our contracts and services to hold a Cyber Essentials Certificate.”

Reflecting on the pledge by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne MP, to invest £1.9 billion in cyber security over the next five years, Vaizey explained that as part of that investment, 1,900 new staff will be recruited to the three intelligence agencies. He also announced plans to open a National Cyber Centre to handle cyber incidents and ensure faster and more effective response to major attacks.

On top of this, the Minister announced plans for an Active Defence Programme designed to divert malware attacks and block bad addresses used against British internet users. Stressing the importance of equipping the next generation with cyber talent, Vaizey announced the opening of a new Institute for Coding and new higher and degree level apprenticeships focused on protecting key sectors like finance and energy.

With the Strategic Defence and Security review focusing on cyber-crime due to be published soon, the Minister stressed that regardless of the report’s findings, cyber security “will remain a priority for government.

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