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Lord Reid calls for innovation to boost cyber security

29 Nov 2011

Former defence and home secretary Lord Reid has urged the government to form a strategic coalition group comprising public and private sectors and academia in order to establish clear ministerial reporting lines and drive innovation as an essential element of cyber security and economic growth.

Speaking during his keynote at the Cyber Security 2011 conference in London on Tuesday, Reid argued that cyber investments should not be seen as geared towards defence, but to growth and innovation.

"Our capacity to innovate is essential to security and growth. It's why we need to form a cyber taskforce of public and private sectors and academia ... not just to be a strategic think tank but a 'do tank'," he said.

Some of the key aims of this group should be to "establish clear lines of leadership in government", making a single cyber security minister directly responsible to the National Security Council, and establishing doctrines for cyber space which could help create a conceptual framework to work within.

Reid also urged the forming of transnational networks to foster greater international collaboration, and the establishment of "cyber zones" funded by private enterprise and designed to "create the conditions of California" to foster tech innovation.

Such zones sound similar to Cisco's British Innovation Gateway campaign, a five-year plan to invest £500m in the UK's burgeoning start-up industry, including a National Virtual Incubator designed to boost information sharing between identified nodes such as research clusters and science parks.

Reid's comments came in response to the government's Cyber Security Strategy launch last week which he broadly welcomed as "the beginnings of a grand strategy".

However, he bemoaned the miserly two per cent of the £650m fund allocated to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, arguing that more should have been spent to help the department encourage technological innovation.

"It's unfortunate because we cannot and will not catch up if investment lacks depth," Reid said. "Cyber investment is not an unnecessary or defensive budget, it's an essential element of any growth strategy."

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Phil Muncaster

Phil Muncaster is news editor at, a role he has fulfilled since January 2010. Previously he was chief reporter for IT Week, having also worked as a reporter and senior reporter on the publication from 2005.

Before IT Week, Phil worked as a researcher for the Rough Guide. Prior to his work in journalism, Phil spent three years teaching English in Japan.



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