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Tech project

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced that UK Government is partnering with the AI technology firm Arm in a project to develop new chips that are more resistant to cyber threats, backed by £36m in funding. This is the next phase of the government’s Digital Security by Design initiative, also backed by Google and Microsoft. The partners say that the project has the potential to prevent hackers from remotely taking control of computer systems as well as targeting breaches.

Andrea Leadsom said: “Cyber-attacks can have a particularly nasty impact on businesses, from costing them thousands of pounds in essential revenue to reputational harm. Cyber-criminals operate in the shadows, with the severity, scale and complexity of breaches constantly evolving. It’s critical that we are ahead of the game and developing new technologies and methods to confront future threats, supporting our businesses and giving them peace of mind to deliver their products and services safely. Investing in our world-leading researchers and businesses to develop better defence systems makes good business and security sense.”

A further project, backed by £18m from the UK government, through the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), will tackle wrongful use of data as in disinformation and online fraud, phishing emails, impersonation of organisations online and malware. UK Government is also supporting a new ‘Prosperity Partnership’ between Toshiba Research Europe, University of Bristol and GCHQ. SWAN (Secure Wireless Agile Networks) aims to develop more resilient wireless networks; seeking to detect threats such as financial extortion and mitigate them, and to be resilient to accidental or induced failures, such as jamming. The partnership will identify how the Radio Frequency (RF) interfaces that wireless networks rely on can be attacked, and develop techniques to detect RF cyber-attacks. Radios whose RF characteristics can be updated to deal with new threats, and safe sharing of data will also be studied.


Rob Norris, VP Enterprise and Cyber Security, at Fujitsu says: “This continued investment in cyber security is proof that the issue is being taken seriously at the highest level. The collaboration between the government and organisations is an encouraging one – and with technological innovation speeding up, this support is going to be vital moving forward. If the UK wishes to become a leading digital nation, it’s important to put cyber strategy first; organisations must adopt a ‘security-by-design’ approach that puts security at the heart of their business. Ultimately, if cyber security isn’t part of boardroom discussions, they risk all kinds of financial and reputational damage as a result.

“Collaborations such as these – including the partnership between Industry100 and NCSC – will help form an important part of reducing cyber attack exposure for many SMEs and larger organisations most at threat. And the message is clear from the government: they recognise the threat from foreign and domestic actors and the havoc that it could play on businesses up and down the country. As the threats evolve, so must the funding and increased importance on awareness to combat those attacks. This is a big step in the right direction.”

Tim Dunton, MD, Nimbus Hosting says: “It has become increasingly obvious that the threat of a hostile cyber-attack progressively threatens to damage and destroy both businesses and individuals in the UK. This new cash injection is certainly a step in the right direction towards protecting our businesses and our sensitive private information, simultaneously encouraging nationwide awareness of the cyber-issue.

“However, this new fund will not stop attacks altogether, nor will it take affect immediately. Therefore, there is a number of things that organisations and individuals must do in the meantime to protect themselves from hackers and malware. This includes investing in cyber security software, upskilling employees with cyber skills, and, most importantly, encouraging cyber secure online behaviour, protocols and procedures across organisations – this starts with operating a safe, secure online domain and IT system which is constantly kept up to date.”

And Ilia Kolochenko, founder and CEO of web security company ImmuniWeb says: “Most of the successful attacks nowadays are caused by incomplete or outdated inventory of digital assets. A vast majority of businesses in the UK and abroad do not know where exactly their data is stored, how many applications or APIs they have or how many mobile devices are connected to their internal networks. That is a root cause of the problem, and deserves urgent attention and mitigation. Therefore, I’d urge investing in a supplementary cybersecurity initiative that’s aimed at bringing visibility of data and assets to UK businesses.”


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