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UK workforce lacking basic cyber training

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

77 per cent of UK workers admit that they have never received any form of training cyber skills training from their employer.

That’s according to a new study from Centrify and comes at the start of the European Union’s CyberSecMonth, designed to raise awareness of cybersecurity threats, promote cybersecurity among citizens and organisations; and provide resources to protect themselves online, through education and sharing of good practices.

The survey of 2,000 full time UK workers in professional services, conducted by independent survey company Censuswide, also found that over one quarter (27 per cent) of workers use the same password for multiple accounts, including work email and social media, putting both their personal security and that of their company at risk from hackers.

Most worryingly, the survey also found that 69 per cent admit that they do not have the confidence in their own cyber security processes when it comes to protecting their own data.

Additionally, 14 per cent have admitted to keeping their passwords recorded in an unsecured handwritten notebook or on their desk in the office. The news comes despite the UK government’s drive to improve cybersecurity for companies, with its Cyber Essentials programme.

A further 14 per cent do not utilise multi-factor authentication cyber security measures for apps or services unless required to do so – despite the fact that many consumer banking apps and social media now offer this service. 

Experts have warned that such a lacklustre approach to critical cyber awareness could land employers in hot water. 

Donal Blaney, a cyber law expert at Griffin Law said: “Ignorance of the law is no defence. Company directors and business owners owe it to themselves, their staff, their shareholders, and their customers to know how to protect their businesses and their customers’ data. They will only have themselves to blame if this blows up in their face one day.”

Andy Heather, VP at Centrify, added: “In an age where cyber attacks have emerged as one of the most ruthless and successful forms of crime that can be committed against a business on a large scale, it is astounding to hear that so many UK companies neglect to instil even the most basic cyber security measures in their employees.

“Just one misplaced password could result in the theft of millions of sensitive company documents, personal information and financial fraud, allowing hackers access to critical data. Tackling this issue requires urgent investment in cyber skills training and adopting a zero-trust approach, to further reduce the risk of weak passwords leaving easy entry points and to ensure malicious parties cannot run riot in company systems with stolen log-in credentials.”

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

UK Government prioritises cyber skills

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The UK Government is “acutely aware” of the need for more skilled cyber security professionals working within the sector, and is embarking on a series of initiatives to help promote the profession.

Discussing the concern with members of UK technology industry body TechUK, Matt Parsons, head of cyber security skills at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: “We are looking at a number of ways to retrain people who are interested in moving into the industry at pace and at scale.

“Using what we have learned, we are planning to scale up and look at how we can support the cyber security industry – and get more people in at a quicker rate.”

Initiatives include a two-year bursary pilot programme for candidates taking a GCHQ accredited masters degree to return to become a cyber security professional. The Government is also running a 10-week training academy to provide training for candidates looking to pursue a career in cyber security, along with an apprenticeship scheme that has launched offering students work placements and on-the-job training.

“The National Cyber Security Strategy outlines a number of strategic outcomes, one of which is that the UK has a sustainable supply of home-grown cyber security professionals to meet the growing demands of an increasingly digital economy in both the public and private sectors – and in defence,” commented Parsons.

The Government also believes that the creation and development of professional body with cyber security  is “absolutely key” to the continuing development of the profession, with Parsons indicating that the Government is looking at ways to support it.

“And that is not about creating something new to replace what already exists, but rather about looking at the existing landscape and thinking about how all that work can be harnessed to be even more effective and help deliver the desired outcome,” said Parsons.