The UK security industry is rapidly growing in response to the increased cyber threat facing businesses, helping protect the nation and boost the UK economy, according to government security minister Chloe Smith.
The minister, speaking at Infosec 2013 on Tuesday morning, said funding from the country’s Cyber Strategy has already created a boom in the number of security companies operating in the UK. A second growth spurt would occur in the next four years, she added.
“Undeniably there is massive growth potential for UK businesses and innovators to do well and continue doing very well in cyber security,” said Smith.
“At the last count there are over 2,300 UK companies in the cyber security sector. In total, these companies support well over 26,000 jobs – that’s actually 16 percent of all the UK’s security employment. UK cyber security sales accounted for the £3.8bn with UK exports of over £800m. UK Cyber security global growth over the next four years is forecast to be over twice that […] so it’s clear this is a growth sector.”
The UK Cyber Strategy was unveiled in 2011 when the government pledged to invest £650m to improve the country’s cyber defences. The strategy has already seen government launch and fund numerous new programmes like the Cyber Security Challenge and Cyber Information Sharing Partnership (CISP).
The programmes are designed to help increase awareness about cyber threats and increase information sharing between the public and private sector groups about attacks. Smith said the focus on awareness and information sharing will lead to an overall boost to the UK economy, securing it a reputation as a safe place to do business.
“Cyber security offers an opportunity to the UK both for companies where it is core to their business and for companies across all areas of the economy that need to develop a competitive edge by demonstrating that they can handle data responsibly and protect the details of those they do business with,” said Smith.
However, the minister said that even with the funding the threat facing the UK is still growing as criminals and state groups create increasingly sophisticated attack tools to countermand the nation’s improved defences.
“Governments are faced with these threats on a daily basis. On average over 33,000 malicious emails are blocked by the government’s gateway to the secure internet. These often contain or link to sophisticated malware made by highly skilled cyber criminals or state groups. A far greater number of less sophisticated emails and spam are also blocked each month,” said Smith.
“Industry is by far the biggest victim of cyber threats, we’ve said before that cyber crime, with IP theft and espionage costs the UK economy billions of pounds and as we continue to push more services online the scope of potential targets will only continue to grow.”
Smith’s comments mirror those of Cabinet minister Francis Maude, who similarly cited cyber security as a key growth area for the UK economy during a speech at CISP’s launch earlier in 2013.
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