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#Belfast2017: CNI, Startups & Cyber-Skills High on the Agenda for UK Government

Speaking at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies’ (CSIT) World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit 2017 in Belfast today, Conrad Prince CB, cyber security growth ambassador at the UK Department for International Trade Defence and Security Organisation, outlined the strategies the UK government is currently exploring and implementing to strengthen the nation’s overall cybersecurity position.

Cyber-threats continue to dominate, Prince explained, with both evolving and traditional risks still causing significant damage, and there is a need to “build a cyber-ecosystem that brings together academia, research, SMEs and government.

“Those who want to do us harm are becoming more aggressive and more assertive, whether it’s hostile nation states, or criminals, or other actors – demonstrating an increasing level of confidence and aggression in cyber to do us harm.”

Looking to the future, Prince added, we will be seeing more ransomware, more data being tampered with and greater risks surrounding the Internet of Things.

Therefore, he continued, with the new National Cyber Security Centre (NSCS) UK government is focusing on some key areas as it looks to improve the UK’s security ecosystem. 

“We [NCSC] are looking at a more interventionist strategy; a strategy that is seeing a greater role for cyber public bodies in the UK, and a strategy that’s learning lessons from the past. We’ve evolved our thought around how we provide guidance and support to businesses, academia and individuals around how they achieve cybersecurity.”

The NCSC endeavors to make what the government is doing about cybersecurity much more visible and accessible to the public, Prince said, and be a single focal point for advice around cyber within government.

In particular, the NCSC recognizes the dangers of attacks against critical national infrastructure (CNI), and Prince stated that this is a very significant issue for government going forward.

What’s more, whilst the UK has a good reputation for breeding successful startup companies, Prince argued there are still “not enough startups and SMEs growing into large companies. We want to do a bunch of things to address that” including two new innovation centers for the benefit of startups in the industry.

Lastly, Prince said more work needs to be done to improve the cyber-skills shortage in the UK: “We’re looking at schools programs, we want to involve 5000 school children by 2021 with dedicated cyber-schools activities, looking for students with a real aptitude in IT and doing things to support them through mentoring, project work, summer schools to help them develop those cyber-skills and bring them into higher education and the work place.

"We’re also doing work around cyber-apprenticeships and retraining – looking to retrain people mid-career and help them move into cyber. It’s an enormous agenda for us.” 

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