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UK Government Announces New Initiatives as Part of Cyber Security Strategy

Francis Maude, UK minister for the Cabinet Office, today announced several new initiatives as part of the British government’s ongoing Cyber Security Strategy.

The announcements, he said, would continue to help make Britain a safe place to do business, and also address the much publicized ‘skills gap’ the industry faces.

 The initiatives announced by the MP this morning include:

  • The development of a 13 ‘cybersecurity clusters’ around the country, based on an existing security start-up hub in Worcestershire.
  • Funding for colleges and universities in Newcastle, Birmingham, London and Liverpool to develop and demonstrate resources to improve cybersecurity education.
  • A ‘Cyber Mentoring Scheme’ which will allow recent graduates and students who are interested in a cybersecurity career to get direct mentoring from those already working in the industry.
  • A new series of ‘Cyber Camps’ for recent graduates to be delivered by Cyber Security Challenge UK.
  • A new Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP) node in the south-east.
  • The re-launch of Scottish information sharing forums established for the Commonwealth Games, with Welsh and Northern Irish hubs to follow.

Speaking at a Cabinet Office event held at London’s Institute of Chartered Accountants, Maude said, “Firms are crying out for people with cyber skills and that demand is only going to grow,” adding that, “The UK has a rich heritage in computer science and cryptography. These kinds of people are still with us in normal homes and workplaces, but we’ve got to get much better at identifying them and matching them up to the opportunities in the workforce.”

In addition, commenting on the nation-wide implementation of cybersecurity initiatives, he said that, “The message here is that cyber threat is not a London phenomenon. We’re determined to show that our resilience is country-wide.

Also announced at this morning's event was a new Android app, Cryptoy, released by UK spy agency GCHQ, and developed by students on industrial placement there. The app aims to teach teenagers about the application and history of cryptographic techniques, and gives users the opportunity to get hands-on with encrypting messages. “We hope it will inspire the next generation into the world of ciphers, code and cyber,” commented a GCHQ employee and recent graduate.

First launched in 2011, the coalition government’s Cyber Security Strategy aims to increase the security of the UK as a place to do business, and build the resilience of the nation’s cybersecurity interests by investing in small businesses and promoting skills using £860m worth of funding.

Maude also commented this morning on the successes of the government’s recently-launched Cyber Essentials scheme and Cyber Streetwise campaign: “Since its launch, over 600,000 people have visited the Cyber Streetwise website and online films have attracted over five million views. Most importantly, two million adults have taken steps to change their behavior online.”

Reflecting on the announcement, Symantec’s EMEA senior director of government affairs commented:

“For businesses, we hope that [the Cyber Security Strategy] continues to communicate the importance of investing in cybersecurity not only as a cost to protect against these different types of ‘invisible’ attacks but actually as a way to promote businesses growth. With the upcoming UK General Election, it will be important for the incoming government to continue the work on raising awareness and building public knowledge around cyber security.”

The UK government has already made headlines in the industry this week after prime minister David Cameron announced a joint initiative between the NCA and GCHQ to tackle child abuse, which has elicited a mixed response from the infosec industry.

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