Last month the government unveiled its Cyber Demonstration Centre to give small to medium businesses (SMBs) a platform to show off their latest cyber security products.
Housed in a business suite in Westminster, the centre has three 4K video monitors and state-of-the-art Cisco video conferencing systems. The set-up is compatible with older technology and can be linked with laptops and smartphones in real time.
The centre, part funded by the Cabinet Office and UK Trade and Investment and should help expand the export opportunities of the cyber industry, which is worth £17.6bn a year.
In an exclusive visit to the centre, V3 sat down with Conrad Prince, the UK cyber ambassador and former deputy head of GCHQ, to discuss how SMBs will benefit from a dedicated place to show off the latest security technology.
Increasing cyber exports
Prince told V3 that the aim is to use the centre is to ensure smaller firms have the same opportunity to show off their technology as larger firms, which often have their own high-quality demo centre in-house.
"[The centre is] a platform for UK companies, particularly UK SMEs to reach potential customers and markets they wouldn't otherwise be able to reach," he said.
Prince said this centre should ensure SMEs are able to capture more business, both within the UK and with foreign governments.
"I am engaging at a senior government-to-government level in certain key markets where the British government can add value by engaging in senior discussions around cyber security and looking for opportunities to put together British companies with relevant overseas governments."
Prince added that areas like e-government, smart cities and the Internet of Things, are creating major new opportunities for cyber security firms that it wants UK to be able to compete for.
To this end, Prince explained he is setting up a number of "missions" in the coming months to showcase the best of British cyber security innovations
These millions will involve eight to 12 UK companies holding security-focused meetings in counties such as India, Saudi Arabia and the US as well as attending major security conferences.
"We tailor our approach to different markets," he said. "I'm focusing a lot on the Gulf region at the moment. We have very close relationships with countries in the Gulf. It's very important to us to work with those counties to help build cyber security capabilities."
Meanwhile, Iain Gill, assistant director of the cyber security export team at the UKTI Defence and Security Organisation, reinforced the idea that the centre was built to promote the work of SMBs.
"They lacked a space in central London with government backing to be able demonstrate and show off their capabilities to potential foreign clients," he told V3.
"A number of large companies have their own facilities so there was a demand from SMBs but it's available for all companies to use and we are working with larger companies as well to put on showcase events."
Gill said this should help ensure the government hits its targets for cyber security exports.
"Specifically on cyber security, we have a target of £2bn of exports by 2016. Figures came out a few weeks ago and it was £1.5bn in 2014 so we are more or less on course to hit that target."
The impact of data theft
Recently, a number of high level targets including United Airlines, the US Office of Personnel Management and adultery website Ashley Madison have faced major data breaches.
Prince urged UK businesses to ensure they put in place good, basic security measures to avoid a similar fate.
"My perspective is we are still in the space that a vast majority of attacks can be defeated by quite basic security measures, and I think if you look at the government message that really is the message we are getting across," he said.
"The kind of successful attacks that are taking place on a daily basis are very often the same types of attacks that were taking place five years ago."
"It's really important to recognise that cyber security is so much more than putting black boxes on networks. It's much broader than that. For example, there is a huge requirement around training, skills and education."
It was reported last year that up to 60 percent of small businesses had experienced a cyber breach, and that the average cost of the worst breaches ranged from £65,000 to £115,000.
Gill added that these figures should serve as a warning to all firms to consider their own security needs.
"Almost any business you can imagine has a cyber security need," he said.
"We are very much hoping that UK companies will use this space for one of the main reasons it was designed, which is a space they can use with their partners and with their clients to demonstrate their capabilities."
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