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Redscan criticises new Government cybersecurity stats

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Redscan has disputed the findings of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s latest Cyber Security Breaches Survey.

The firm has argued that response bias and the sample of participants makes it impossible to fully trust the data.

The DCMS report found that the cost of breaches has gone up for the third year in a row and suggests that fewer breaches are taking place (due to businesses being more secure).

Redscan has taken issue with that conclusion, with CTO Mark Nicholls stating that while the Government’s latest cybersecurity survey figures provide some interesting insights, response bias of the participants means we should avoid drawing any firm conclusions.

He said: “The finding that many businesses can identify a data breach instantly, for instance, just doesn’t ring true. Interpreting the results is also clouded by the fact that half of organisations surveyed were micro businesses with fewer than 9 employees. 

“While the report suggests that cyber security is becoming a higher priority among businesses, evidenced by more senior management buy in, businesses still struggle to properly assess the risks as well as identify and respond to breaches. 

“Despite an increase in the cost of breaches, the figures are still surprisingly low– likely due to businesses self-reporting, as well as the fact that these numbers don’t consider hidden costs such as reputational damage. 

“Nowhere near enough businesses have undertaken cyber risk assessments and less than a third made changes because of the GDPR’s introduction. These are very worrying statistics, no matter how you look at them. 

“The proportion of businesses identifying breaches or attacks (32%) is now lower than in 2018. The report suggests that this may be due to businesses being more secure, but many simply aren’t aware they’ve been breached. Attackers are getting stealthier and staying on the network undetected for longer. 

“As to the statistic that two third of business businesses can identify a breach instantly, this is patently false. Real-world data from the ICO suggests it takes closer to 60 days on average.” 

Nine graduates pass through NCSC Cyber Accelerator

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A group of tech start-ups have become the latest to graduate from a Government initiative to advance the next generation of cyber security systems.

The nine-month GCHQ Cyber Accelerator (now renamed the NCSC Cyber Accelerator), delivered in partnership with Wayra UK, part of Telefónica Open Future, saw nine companies develop cutting-edge products and services to help enhance the UK’s cyber defences.

Part of the UK Government’s £1.9bn National Cyber Security Strategy and the Cheltenham Innovation Centre, the Accelerator is a collaboration between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), GCHQ, National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and Wayra UK and aims to drive innovation in the cyber security sector.

Firms selected to take part in the second round had access to personnel and technical expertise at the NCSC and GCHQ, as well as the Telefónica global business network. They also received £25,000 in funding, high-quality mentoring and office space.

Innovations developed include a cloud service solution to connect Internet of Things devices with end-to-end authenticated, encrypted security and a service to solve the problem of age verification and parental consent for young adults and children in online transactions.

Companies who took part were Cybershield, Secure Code Warrior, RazorSecure, Elliptic, Intruder, Trust Elevate, Warden, Ioetec and ExactTrak.

NCSC, DCMS and Wayra UK will soon be calling for cyber start-ups to join the third round of the programme – now renamed to the NCSC Cyber Accelerator – to help address some of cyber space’s key challenges.

Innovative entrepreneurs and start-ups can now register interest in participating in the nine-month programme, which will include ten innovative, agile companies in 2018/19.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, said: “With so much of our daily lives connected to the internet, it is vital the UK leads the way on cyber security to fulfil our ambition of making Britain the safest place to in the world to be online.

“The NCSC Cyber Accelerator programme is a great example of government, industry and tech start-ups coming together to benefit from the advice of world-class experts and tackle cyber crime.”

Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Skills and Growth, said: “On behalf of the NCSC, I would like to congratulate the second cohort on their completion of the Accelerator.

“It has been exciting to collaborate with such innovative start-ups, tackling such a broad range of problems.

“I’m really pleased that Wayra UK will continue to be our partner. I look forward to working with them and meeting more pioneering entrepreneurs as we launch the next cohort.”

Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK, said: “We are really pleased to be continuing our partnership with GCHQ. It’s one of our most strategic and successful partnerships.

Indeed, our first two cohorts have raised more than £20 million in funding, have created 19 British jobs and have won 15 trials and contracts worth over £3 million. And this has been just in the last 18 months.”

UK Government prioritises cyber skills

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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.

Government invests £20m in teen cyber security education

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The Government has launched an ambitious Cyber Schools Programme aimed at secondary school students between the ages of 14 and 18.

The initiative, launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will provide training for up to 6,000 teenagers through extracurricular clubs and activities, along with an online game. The pilot programme is due to launch in the autumn.

The Cyber Schools Programme is part of the National Cyber Security Programme to find the online security experts of tomorrow. Students, teachers and cyber security professionals will be invited to register their interest online by the DCMS, which claims that the programme is intended “to make sure the UK is prepared for the future, and ready to tackle the growing threat posed by cyber criminals”.

“We want to help young people learn some of the skills needed to work in the cyber security profession. In the coming years, it will be your generation building, running and protecting the UK – you could be needed to help protect industries such as banking, transport and public services,” explains the DCMS website.

The training will be supported by Cyber Security Challenge UK, BT, FutureLearn and The Sans Institute.

Students between the ages of 14 and 18 will be assessed, before taking the course, with those that are accepted benefiting from connections within the cyber security sector. The DCMS is looking for at least 5,700 teenagers trained by 2021.

Commenting on the course, Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital, said: “Our Cyber Schools Programme aims to inspire the talent of tomorrow and give thousands of the brightest young minds the chance to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies. I encourage all those with the aptitude, enthusiasm and passion for a cyber security career to register for what will be a challenging and rewarding scheme.”