Security Workers Fear Brexit Could Leave UK More Vulnerable to Cyber-Attack

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Britain’s potential exit from the EU could have negative repercussions for the cybersecurity industry, according to new research.

A survey of over 300 IT professionals carried out by AlienVault at this year’s Infosec conference found that 38% fear leaving the EU could make the UK more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. That’s because the UK cybersecurity industry currently benefits from information sharing over threats with other EU nations. If the UK votes to leave the EU at this week’s referendum, that information sharing could end.

As well as fears over what the UK leaving the EU could mean for cybersecurity, over half of the survey’s respondents (52%) said UK companies would still have to comply with EU law in order to trade with Europe.

Other findings from the survey suggest much of the UK cybersecurity industry is firmly in favor of the UK remaining as part of the EU. The vast majority (78%) of respondents said Brexit would not make their jobs easier, while 22% said they support EU legislation governing data protection, which they say benefits their work.

The potential loss of the intelligence gathered via information sharing is what concerns many in the IT industry, according to Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault.

“A significant proportion of those surveyed believe that being part of the EU actually benefits them and their work,” he said. “This is especially true of the industry’s attitudes towards intelligence sharing between EU states. Cyber attackers pay no attention to geographical boundaries, transcending borders and jurisdictions to maximize malicious effect. The truth is that we can provide a stronger and more robust defense against emerging threats by working together and sharing information.”

Many security professionals believe that leaving the EU would have little impact on their responsibilities connected with the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). “Rather than offering an escape from the EU’s red tape, most people believe that they would still have to negotiate their way through complex legislation such as GDPR even if Britain does leave the EU,” Malik explained.

Additionally, 66% of respondents believe that the customer data held by their organizations would not be affected if Britain leaves the EU. However, 25% worry their corporate data would in fact be less secure, while a similar figure (22%) said the same thing about the customer data they handle.

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