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Whitehall focuses on four points for Cyber Security Strategy

11/06/15

Digital Economy Unit official says new strategy will reflect priorities of GREAT Britain trade campaign

Skills, crime disruption, critical national infrastructure and business engagement are likely to provide the main planks of a future UK Cyber Security Strategy, one of the government’s senior security officials has told a briefing.

Cyber_Security_at_the_Ministry_of_Defence_MOD_45153617Richard Bach, assistant director of cyber security at the Digital Economy Unit, also said the strategy, which will update the one launched in 2011 and is due to be published towards the end of the year, could be partly aligned with the aims of the GREAT Britain trade campaign. He was speaking at a Westminster Briefing on government and cyber security.

Officials from a handful of government departments are now working on the cyber strategy, along with the new Strategic Defence and Security Review and Comprehensive Spending Review.

Bach said the new strategy should be an evolution of those launched in 2009 and 2011 and reflect the changes in thinking around cyber security. Although it will take months to prepare the detail, he said there are “key areas” to be drawn out.

Skills and education

First is the future development of skills and making the UK a global leader in cyber security education. This reflects one of the four objectives in the existing strategy and has involved cross-sector research, building technical capabilities and improving skills at all levels.

Second are efforts to map and disrupt cyber crime. Bach said it would not be possible to stop all crime in the field, but that it could be made more difficult, and mentioned that the Conservative Party election manifesto included a reference to improving the relevant police training.

Third is to protect the critical national infrastructure, and fourth is to engage with business and promote the role of cyber security in economic growth.

“Out of all the areas this is the one that has made the ‘at scale’ difference to our efforts around business engagement,” he said. ”Our efforts have been good but embryonic, and I would expect to see much more in that space.”

Bach said the cyber strategy could also be part of the government’s efforts to promote Britain as a place to do business and obtain education under the GREAT Britain campaign. This reflects a change in thinking in which cyber security is now seen as a much more important part of prosperity and national well-being.

“I would draw your attention to work from the GREAT campaign, which is aimed at business and exports,” he said. “It talks of start, growth, accelerate, for which it wants to put the pieces in place.

“I think it gives us the right template or colour of what we might expect from a 2015 strategy.”

Advice coordination

He also suggested that advice to the public and businesses about dealing with cyber crime could be better coordinated.

“If we can see a better drawing together, to be able to point citizens and businesses at what good looks like, surely it would be a good thing,” he said. “I’m not yet sure what it would look like but it would be one thing to look out for.”

In a post-election reorganisation the Digital Economy Unit was moved from the Department of Business and Skills to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Back said this pulled all the work on the digital economy within a single department.

Image: Harland Quarrington/MoD, Open Government Licence v1.0 through Wikimedia

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