UK re-announces £1.9bn cybersecurity spend

Bill Boyle
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The UK Government has pledged £1.9bn on cybersecurity in an announcement it appears to have made last year

The UK Government says it will sink £1.9 billion over the next five years into a new cybersecurity strategy to include automatic defences to protect businesses, Chancellor Philip Hammond said yesterday.

The announcement doubles the funding provided by the government’s 2011 cybersecurity strategy which was launched in 2011.

Hammond said: "Cybersecurity is recognised as one of the greatest threats to business around the world, with the global cost of crimes in cyberspace estimated at $445 billion. Society is vulnerable to cyber-attacks "thanks to the expanding range of connected devices which are creating more opportunities for exploitation; more demand for training and skills; old legacy IT systems used by many organisations in the UK and the readily available suite of user-friendly hacking tools. This means that everyone from the living room to the boardroom is exposed to malicious hackers."

The government is setting up what it calls a cyber security research institute, which it described as a ‘virtual collection’ of universities, and an innovation centre to help cybersecurity start-ups.

Cybersecurity expert Ian Birdsey of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said: "The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving: ransomware demands are increasing in numbers and cybercrime more generally is on the rise. Organisations have now realised that no IT systems can be 100% secure, instead what matters is how well they prepare for and respond to a cyber-incident when it arises."

"Due to the evolving cyber threat landscape together with recent legal and regulatory developments, cyber risk has never been higher on the agenda for boards and chief executives," he said.

Despite the fact that, as the government’s own report points out, many UK companies lack formal cybersecurity policies and a plan to manage incidents when they occur, it has no plans to sanction negligent businesses which fall victim to attacks.

However, the money is not new. As Computer Weekly points out today, In a speech at GCHQ on 17 November last year, the then Chancellor, George Osborne, said the government was making cyber security a top priority, and announced exactly the same investment.

 “In the spending review, I have made a provision to almost double our investment to protect Britain from cyber attack and develop our sovereign capabilities in cyber space, totalling £1.9bn over five years,” Osborne sasid at the time.