With a constant stream of sophisticated malware being uncovered in both the public and private sector, cyber security has become a top priority for governments.
Attacks like Red October, MiniDuke and of course the infamous Stuxnet, have finally made companies and government agencies painfully aware that they can no longer afford to rely on outdated perimeter-based defences, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems.
This has led both the UK and US governments to pour vast resources into new cyber defence and offence projects and initiatives. This began in the UK in November 2011 when the government announced its Cyber Strategy, pledging to invest a massive £650m to help improve the country's defences.
Since then, US president Barack Obama has followed suit by announcing plans to increase the US cyber security budget from $3.9bn to $4.7bn as part of the US Department of Defense's proposed $526bn 2014 defence budget.
While the US spending does dwarf that of the UK, I'm still convinced the British government will get more bang for its buck, thanks mainly to its more measured focus on education and collaboration.
Obama is yet to release the full details about where the US money will go, but given the nation's track record when dealing with new threats to its borders or citizens, it's unlikely much of it will reach the country's education system.
Military agencies like the US Air Force and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) have already begun eyeing up the budget. Just this year the Air Force reclassified six of its tools as "cyber weapons" while Darpa announced plans to develop new hacker-proof wireless technologies for soldiers working in active war zones. Both moves were an obvious bid by the agencies to use the available funds.
Additionally, the country already has a shady past regarding cyber security, being suspected of creating cyber tools capable of doing more than just spying on their targets. This was demonstrated in 2011 with the discovery of the Stuxnet malware, a piece of malicious code designed to physically sabotage an Iranian nuclear power plant.
The US has to realise its reaction to cyber threats has to be very different from its current military strategy. Retaliating to attacks on its networks in kind will put businesses across the globe in danger.
This is because the creation of cyber tools like Stuxnet don't stop hackers, state or criminal.
Because of this, I'm happy to see the UK has taken a much more measured approach to cybersecurity by creating numerous education initiatives designed to ensure the next and current generation of business executives and IT professionals understand security is and always will be a top priority for any company.
The UK has created a set of best practice cyber security guidelines and a central Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) to facilitate real time data sharing between the government and private sector.
For the next generation, the strategy has seen the creation of new apprenticeship programmes in partnership with charities like Bletchley park and government groups like the GCHQ.
Because of this, while I'm not convinced the £650m will sort the current cyber issue facing the UK, I am confident it's a step in the right direction, something I can't say about the US and its current approach. Here's hoping this continues.
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