Hammond pledges £1.9bn to bolster UK's cyber defences

The UK government is to plough another £1.9bn into the country’s cyber defence strategy -- almost doubling the funding commitment it made in the first strategy was launched five years ago.

The plans, announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond today, form a part of the government’s new National Cyber Security Strategy, which will set out a series of actions designed to protect the UK economy and privacy online.

The new National Cyber Security Strategy outlines how the UK will use automated defences to safeguard people and businesses against a growing range of cyber threats.

Outlining how cyber security underpins our daily lives such as through domestic devices in our homes and cars, air traffic control and power grids, the Chancellor reinforced how the threat of attacks invade our privacy and threaten our national security and set out how the government plans to deal with it.

“Britain is already an acknowledged global leader in cyber security thanks to our investment of over £860 million in the last Parliament, but we must now keep up with the scale and pace of the threats we face. Our new strategy, underpinned by £1.9 billion of support over 5 years and excellent partnerships with industry and academia, will allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyberspace and to strike back when we are attacked,” Hammond said.

The Chancellor went on to emphasise the responsibility that CEOs have to make sure their organisations are secure against cyber attacks and the additional support government will give industry and wider society through the new National Cyber Security Centre.

Head of cyber risk at JLT Specialty, Sarah Stephens, said the decision represents an important step towards tackling a growing problem, and funding at this level will ensure that the UK is moving towards the level of capability enjoyed in the US. “The government’s plans to invest in home-grown talent by educating and training cyber security experts, as well as giving financial support to a Cyber Security Research Institute and security-based start-ups will ensure that the UK remains on the front foot of the cyber-crime issue both now and in the future.”

“There is also a great opportunity here for UK insurers to grow in partnership with the cyber industry and government, and potentially incentivise more information sharing by UK businesses," Stephens added. "While companies are reluctant to share the details of how they were compromised, this data can be critical to mitigating the corrosive and systemic risk of cyber crime. Working together in collaboration to tackle this issue gives us a holistic solution to what is a serious and growing problem for UK businesses, and one that should, in turn, provide some lasting, meaningful impact.”

While the investment is a positive step, some commentators wonder if it is enough. Cyber security lead at law firm, Mishcon de Reya, Joe Hancock said cyber crime is continuously evolving and therefore the issue needs continuous investment.

“Given the threat that cyber crime poses, it would be ideal to see the government commit to a figure that will be allocated to tackling cyber crime each year,” he said. “Given that many malicious issues originate abroad, a similar fund from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to encourage other countries to improve their security at source -- rather than when they get to the UK -- would be welcome.” ENDS/DLR

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