#InfosecurityEurope: Digital Dependence Means Government and Industry Must Bolster Collaboration

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Businesses need to and move away from the “impossible” goal of total security, and towards cyber resilience, UK government adviser Saj Huq told Infosecurity Europe.

Organizations of all sizes need to “move the needle” and work to improve cyber hygiene across their supply chains. At the same time, there is a greater role for cooperation between businesses within industries, with governments and regulators, as well as a need to promote better cybersecurity among smaller firms.

The industry needs to act to encourage startups with viable cybersecurity innovations to attract investment and to grow.

Huq is chief commercial officer and director of innovation services at Plexal, as well as a member of the UK government’s National Cyber Advisory Board.

In his keynote address, Huq argued that the economy and society now depends entirely on digital ecosystems. “We have reached peak digital dependence, everything is connected, everything talks to everything else,” he said.

“Not only is every business a digital business, but the very nature of technology is changing, the nature of how humans themselves interact with technology is changing … there will be a fundamentally different relationship between humans and machines.”

This trend will only accelerate with developments such as AI, which Huq describes as a technology that has taken “decades to build an overnight success.”

Read more about Infosecurity Europe: Michael Johnson Reminds Security Pros Where Success Comes From

Less dramatically, businesses are also having to deal with the transitions to cloud computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and remote working. These are trends, Huq noted, that were already underway before the Covid pandemic, but accelerated during it. These pose their own security risks, as businesses rely more heavily on technologies that they cannot fully control.

Governments, enterprises and the security industry itself also face three key challenges: the macroeconomic environment, with rising inflation and stagnant growth; geopolitical risks, driven by the conflict in Ukraine; and systemic, international competition in the technology industry driven by China.

“The key battleground is technology, from a cyber-threat perspective but also in broader, economic prosperity terms,” he said.

The threats can only be addressed by government working more with industry and potentially becoming a “customer of first resort” for startups with innovative security technologies.

None the less, Huq remains optimistic.

“I do think people are learning the lessons of the past. I do see innovators working on secure by design, things that can enhance the security of software supply chains. We see industry and government both waking up to the fact that this is a national security risk and prosperity risk as well. But with that awareness I do feel we should be optimistic about the future and the benefits technology brings,” he concluded.

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