Cyber strategy ‘too high level’ for public, say MPs

The government’s Cyber Security Strategy, published late last year, was too high level to address the concerns of everyday Internet users, MPs have said.

A report from the the Science and Technology Select Committee warns that UK citizens need to be better informed about the risks posed by online malware and Internet scams, adding that advice is often too technical for most users to understand.

"We believe that the Government has a duty to protect the people of the United Kingdom from crime regardless of whether that crime takes place on the streets or on the Internet," the report says.

The committee made a number of suggestions for improving the current lack of ‘Plain English’ information, including a public malware detection web service to determine whether a machine was infected. Internet security awareness site, Get Safe Online, is in need of "substantial investment and improvement," the committee said.

"Get Safe Online needs a much higher profile among UK computer users," the committee said. "Government is central in that awareness raising, through integrating the site with relevant official organisations and governmental bodies and providing a one-stop shop for victims of cyber crime to report  that crime and get authoritative information on how to remedy their situation."

Another suggestion was to introduce a kite mark for security software that meets the government’s standards. However, the committee said it recognised that such schemes might work against smaller companies, and asked the government to look into other ways that smaller security companies might prove their product’s security.

"Despite the increasing use of malware, the internet is still a reasonably safe place to go about one’s business, provided users take a few sensible precautions," said committee chair Andrew Miller said. "Government departments need to realise that better public information about computer safety could save huge numbers of people the hassle of having their personal details stolen."

The government cyber security strategy was aimed primarily at protecting business and critical national infrastructure from cyber attacks. It called for greater cross-sector collaboration and information sharing and revealed that intelligence agency GCHQ would recieve 50% of the UK’s £650 million cyber security budget.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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