The UK’s Government has laid out a National Cyber Strategy, aiming to keep the country at the cutting edge of technology and solidify its position as a global cyber power. The goals and investment will be a great importance to institutions across the whole of CyberBritannia.
The report, published 15th December 2021, is the next significant step following the publication of the Government’s Integrated Review earlier in the year. The goal is to build on the progress that been made in the last five years which has led to a cyber security sector of over 1,400 businesses that generated revenues of £8.9 billion in 2020.
Entitled “National Cyber Security Strategy 2022”, the policy paper acknowledges how COVID-19 has been instrumental in accelerating the expansion of cyberspace and how the ability to protect and promote national interests in cyberspace is vital in creating a more secure, resilient, and prosperous future for the UK.
Specific initiatives that are being supported by a £2.6 billion investment announced in this year’s Spending Review include:
- A new “Cyber Explorers” online training platform which will teach young people cyber skills in classrooms.
- A new scheme to improve diversity in the cyber workforce, ensuring adults from all backgrounds have access to these high skill, high priority jobs.
- A new “Royal Charter” for the UK Cyber Security Council has been approved by the Queen, which will help improve cyber careers and bring the cyber workforce into line with other professional occupations like engineering.
- The establishment of the new National Cyber Advisory Board (NCAB) which will bring together senior leaders from the private and third sectors to challenge, support, and inform the Government’s approach to cyber.
- The creation of a National Laboratory for Operational Technology Security which will bring Government, industry, and academia together to make sure that the UK economy is built on the highest level of cyber resilience.
- The creation of a new online “Export Faculty” Hub to help regional SMEs in the defence and security sector to become world class exporters.
The Government is also investing in the “Cyber Runway” scheme which is helping 107 innovators grow and develop their businesses. Currently, the majority of member companies are outside of London and the South East, 45% are led by women and 52% are run by founders from black and minority ethnic groups. The funding is seeking to bolster this diversity and in particular help regional areas to grow, leading to jobs across the UK not just in London.
Cyber organisations covering the length and breadth of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are highlighted, including academic centres of excellence such as Abertay University, Aston University, Cardiff University, Queen’s University Belfast, and Royal Holloway University, as well as GCHQ / NCSC sites in Bude, Cheltenham, Manchester, and Scarborough. Devolved Authority Organisations are also key to the future success of the initiatives, including the CyberScotland Partnership and the NI Cyber Security Centre.
UKC3 (UK Cyber Cluster Collaboration) will also have a part to play as Ciara Mitchell, Head of Cyber at ScotlandIS and a board member of UKC3, explains, “Through UKC3 there will be a greater focus on collaboration, innovation and skills development which provides a platform to grow the UK cyber security sector.”
The strategy isn’t focused solely on businesses, it also remembers to protect the customers of the digital economy too, with plans to keep UK citizens safe in cyberspace and to curb cybercrime. The proposed steps will include providing “ significant funding” to law enforcement, expanding GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre’s research capabilities, increasing investment in the National Cyber Force, investing in public sector cyber security, and implementing the “Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill” to enforce minimum security standards in all new consumer smart products.
“This strategy will significantly improve the Government’s response to the ever-changing threat from cybercrime and strengthen law enforcement’s response in partnership with NCSC and the National Cyber Force,” said Priti Patel, the Home Secretary. “We all have a part to play in protecting ourselves from cybercrime. It is important that as a society, we take this threat seriously.”
Sir Jeremy Fleming, Director GCHQ, neatly sums up the goals of the strategy, “it shows how the UK can build capacity across the country to continue to prosper from the opportunities of cyberspace. And, as a leading responsible cyber power, can build alliances with democratic partners around the world to protect a free, open and peaceful cyberspace.”