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Dr Ian Levy

Government wants to ‘design out’ cyber threats

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Business Secretary has announced measures for the UK to become a ‘world leader’ in the race against cyber security threats.

The government says businesses and consumers will benefit from increased security and protections built into digital devices and online services with the help of up to £70 million in government investment through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, backed by further investment from industry.

This investment will support research into the design and development of hardware so that they will be more secure and resilient from the outset.

The ambitious aim is to ‘design out’ many forms of cyber threats by ‘designing in’ security and protection technology/solutions into hardware and chip designs, ultimately helping to eradicate a significant proportion of the current cyber risks for businesses and services in future connected smart products.

Clark said the best defence in the future is seen as developing innovative solutions that can work independently and protect against threats even during attacks and that the government wants to ensure that every UK organisation is as cyber secure and resilient as possible.

A further £30 million of government investment will aim to ensure smart systems, such as doors and central heating systems, are safe and secure, with more than 420 million such devices in use across the UK within the next 3 years.

The government is aiming for R&D investment to reach 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

Clark said: “This could be a real step-change in computer and online security, better protecting businesses, services and consumers from cyber-attacks resulting in benefits for consumers and the economy. With businesses having to invest more and more in tackling ever more complex cyber attacks, ‘designing in’ security measures into the hardware’s fabric will not only protect our businesses and consumers but ultimately cut the growing cybersecurity costs to businesses.

Nearly all UK businesses are reliant on digital technology and online services, yet more than 40% have experienced a cyber-security breach or attack in the last 12 months. Hackable home Wi-Fi routers can be used by attackers in botnets to attack major services and businesses. Moreover, consumers are often the worst affected by mass information leaks than the organisation that held their data. Businesses are having to spend increasing amounts on cyber security, up to 20-40% of their IT spend in some cases. And as more and more systems are connected, whether in the home or businesses, there is a need for security that is secure by design.

Digital Minister Margot James said: “We want the UK to be a safer place to live and work online. We’re moving the burden away from consumers to manufacturers, so strong cyber security is built into the design of products. This funding will help us work with industry to do just that, improving the strength and resilience of hardware to better protect consumers from cyber-attacks.”

Dr Ian Levy, National Cyber Security Centre’s Technical Director, said: “The National Cyber Security Centre is committed to improving security from the ground up, and we have been working closely with government to promote adoption of technology and practices to protect the UK.

“We hope this additional investment will drive fundamental changes to products we use every day. This is vital work, because improving hardware can eradicate a wide range of vulnerabilities that cause significant harm.”