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UK cyber skills gap to last 20 years costing nation £27bn a year

12 Feb 2013
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The UK is still woefully short of security professionals despite the government's £650m cyber investment, according to a report by government spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO).

The NAO's Cyber Strategy report warned that the IT security skills gap is still growing, leaving the country at risk from hackers and criminals.

It said the number of IT security professionals in the UK has not kept pace with the burgeoning threats facing the country.

"Interviews with government, academia and business representatives confirmed that the UK lacks technical skills and that the current pipeline of graduates and practitioners would not meet demand," the NAO warned.

"A number of government departments commented that the UK depended on a small number of highly skilled people to participate in developing international technical standards."

The NAO added that the skills gap could persist for many years to come.

"Those we interviewed from academia considered that it could take up to 20 years to address the skills gap at all levels of education," it said.

The report claimed criminal groups are taking advantage of this skills gap, with cyber crime costing the UK between £18bn and £27bn every year.

The UK announced its new Cyber Strategy in 2011, pledging to invest £650m to help improve the country's defences.

Despite the warnings in the report, the head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, praised several UK Cyber Strategy initiatives, claiming the investment was a step in the right direction

"The threat to cyber security is persistent and continually evolving. Business, government and the public must constantly be alert to the level of risk if they are to succeed in detecting and resisting the threat of cyber attack," said Morse.

"It is good that the government has articulated what success would look like at the end of the programme. It is crucial, in addition, that progress towards that point is in some form capable of being measured and value for money assessed."

The report highlighted that the increased investment has helped the Serious Organised Crime Agency capture more than 2.3 million compromised debit or credit cards since 2011.

Other Cyber Strategy initiatives mentioned in the report include investment to help create new e-Special Constables and a National Crime Agency (NCA) and National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU).

The new agencies are intended to combat computer crime across the UK.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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