The UK government has launched its National Cyber Security Strategy for the next five years.
Chancellor Philip Hammond launched the strategy, which details the government’s approach to tackling and managing cyber threats in the UK.
“If we want Britain to be the best place in the world to be a tech business, then it is also crucial that Britain is a safe place to do digital business,” he said.
Hammond added that just as technology presented many opportunities for the economy, it also posed a risk.
“We need a secure cyberspace,” he said.
He cited several examples of recent cyber-attacks including hijacked security cameras being exploited to launch a colossal attack on a US server company, preventing access to major websites for millions of people and the use of targeted, spear-phishing attacks that was thought to be one of the ways hackers broke into Sony’s networks in 2014.
He said that the damage caused in that attack – both commercial and diplomatic – showed how important it was to invest in staff training and awareness.
Hammond went on to say that attacks which could take advantage of insecure coding, weak access controls, poorly implemented cryptography and unprotected databases were also a threat.
“The consequences are significant,” he said. “In Ukraine, two electricity companies suffered a major power outage, with blackouts for several hours due to the first known cyber-attack on an electricity network.
“We have to respond to this threat.”
In the last Parliament, Hammond said that the government had invested £860M over five years to significantly enhance its capabilities to protect its own networks, improve its incident response and to tackle cyber-crime.
“The new strategy is built on three core pillars: defend, deter and develop, underpinned by £1.9bn of transformational investment,” he said.
“A small number of hostile foreign actors have developed and deployed offensive cyber capabilities, including destructive ones. These capabilities threaten the security of the UK’s critical national infrastructure and our industrial control systems.”
The chancellor confirmed that the government was investing in generating cyber skills for the future.
“I can announce we’re creating our latest cyber security research institute – a virtual network of UK universities dedicated to technological research and supported by government funding,” he said.
“The new virtual institute will focus on hardware and will look to improve the security of smart phone, tablets and laptops through innovative use of novel technology.”