UK Government launches new National Cyber Strategy

With the country’s cyber security sector continuously growing, hosting over 1,400 businesses generating revenues of £8.9 billion last year, the new National Cyber Strategy from the UK Government calls on all parts of society to play a role in maintaining protection of digital infrastructure.

According to the announcement released today, keeping the country’s ‘cyberspace’ secure will entail:

  • more workforce diversity;
  • a ‘levelling up’ of the cyber sector across all UK regions;
  • expansion of offensive and defensive cyber capabilities;
  • prioritising cyber security in the workplace, boardrooms and digital supply chains.

“The new National Cyber Strategy transforms how the UK will advance its national interests in cyberspace and is a major milestone following the publication of the Integrated Review earlier this year,” said Steve Barclay, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

“It sets out a clear vision for building cyber expertise in all parts of the country, strengthening our offensive and defensive capabilities and ensuring the whole of society plays its part in the UK’s cyber future, and comes with record funding to match.”

James Hadley, CEO of Immersive Labs, described the focus on diversity and prioritisation of cyber security as “encouraging”, commenting: “The time to elevate people to the same level as technology in the fight against growing cyber threats is now – and clearly, the Government recognises this.

“Remaining resilient in such a high-paced threat environment requires the optimisation of human cyber capabilities across entire organisations – and, indeed, entire nations. Cyber security is no longer just an issue for IT teams and technical people; the entire workforce has a role to play in preparing for, responding to, and remediating against cyber threats.

“I hope this new National Cyber Strategy heralds a shift in mindset, putting the responsibility for cyber security on all of us and opening the door to a new pool of talent. At the end of the day, the more diversity and range of skills and knowledge we have in our armoury, the more we’ll increase our chance of successfully tackling what our adversaries throw at us next.”

Investment in training and business growth

To promote growth and innovation in the UK cyber industry, the Government has announced investment in its Cyber Runway scheme, which looks to aid 107 innovators in growing and developing their businesses.

The majority of member companies in the programme come from outside of London and the South East, while 45% is led by women, and 52% are ran by founders from black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups.

In addition, in line with the new strategy, a new ‘Cyber Explorers’ online training platform has been announced, which looks to teach cyber skills in classrooms, while a new scheme for adults aims to improve workplace diversity and inclusion through inviting participation from all backgrounds.

Also, a new ‘Royal Charter’ that was proposed by the UK Cyber Security Council has been approved by the Queen, which looks to bring the cyber security profession into line with other occupations and improve careers.

Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez, said: “This ground-breaking strategy will help secure the UK’s position as a leading cyber power and ensure people right across the country have the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe online.

“It’s great news that the UK Cyber Security Council’s Royal Charter application has been approved, and we will continue to work closely with the sector to inspire the next generation to consider a career in cyber.”

Bharat Mistry, technical director at Trend Micro, commented: “Having a coherent national cyber strategy will be essential if UK wants to be recognised as a science and tech Superpower for scientific research, innovation, and leading edge in critical areas such as artificial intelligence.

“As the UK becomes ever more connected, cyber security will become the cornerstone to providing world class secure digital services and platforms that will transform the UK economy.”

Promoting diversity in tech, and encouraging the next generation of cyber security professionals

Ahead of the Women in IT UK Summit, Jessica Figueras, vice-chair at the UK Cyber Security Council, spoke to Information Age about promoting diversity in tech, and encouraging cyber professionals of the future. Read here

Keeping citizens safe

The strategy also details the following plans to keep citizens safe online and crack down on cyber crime:

  • Bolstering law enforcement with significant funding, to enable increased targeting of criminals;
  • Increasing investment in the National Cyber Force;
  • Expanding GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre’s research capabilities, including a new applied research hub in Manchester;
  • Implementing the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill to enforce minimum security standards in all new consumer smart products;
  • Investing in public sector cyber security to ensure resilience of key public services to evolving threats.

Home Secretary Priti Patel commented: “Cyber crime ruins lives and facilitates further crimes such as fraud, stalking, and domestic abuse. Billions of pounds are lost each year to cyber criminals who steal or hold personal data to ransom and who disrupt key public services or vital sectors of the national economy.

“This strategy will significantly improve the Government’s response to the ever-changing threat from cyber crime and strengthen law enforcement’s response in partnership with NCSC and the National Cyber Force. We all have a part to play in protecting ourselves from cyber crime. It is important that as a society, we take this threat seriously.”

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.