UK Minister: We Choose to Invest in OUR Cyber Defenses

“We chose to Invest in Our Cyber Defenses” said UK Minister Matt Hancock in a speech in Israel supporting the cybersecurity sector. He announced that London wants to partner with Tel Aviv and grow its cybersecurity relationship through cooperative initiatives. The backdrop, Israel, is the “start-up nation” and home to some of the world’s leading cybersecurity professionals.

The objective, Hancock said, is to establish a “cyber ecosystem” in which cyber start-ups flourish and receive the backing required to conduct business globally, providing “a pipeline of innovation that channels ideas between the private sector, government, and academia.” Part of this overarching agenda, the minister noted, would include a £165 million cyber and defense investment in “next gen” cybersecurity firms.

The talks have ushered in a new area of UK-Israeli cooperation, complete with academic cooperation in the cyber-physical security sector. This area, which includes industrial control systems and driverless cars, is deemed “vital to the safety and security of our economies and our infrastructure.”

To safeguard against cybersecurity threats, London is implementing tried-and-true techniques used by Israel to identify and develop the best cybersecurity minds in academia and recruit future cybersecurity professionals.

Moreover, the two countries cybersecurity organizations, CERT-UK (Computer Emergency Response Team) and CERT-IL, will expand their relationship through information sharing about malware analysis, incident information, and best-practices.

A flexible, broad, UK cybersecurity program is essential if the government and business are to properly function amid rising online security threats. Internet-based attacks in the UK doubled last year, with an average online security infiltration costing a minimum of £1.5 million, according to Hancock.

Private sector internet security group, Synamtec, confirmed the cyber-threat against Britain. The most cyber-attacked country in Europe was the UK and its businesses were the most likely recipient of a malicious email, having 1 out of 78.6 blocked due to suspicious content, noted a Symantec report released last year.

Last November, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivered a speech in which he outlined Britain’s investment cybersecurity agenda for the coming five-years, anchored by the government investing £1.9 billion in cybersecurity. He further articulated a trilateral-like approach, linking government, the private sector, and academia to protect the homeland against cyber-attacks which he called “one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime.”

He added, “ISIL’s murderous brutality has a strong digital element” with the goal of killing people by attacking our critical infrastructure using cyber-attacks.

These growing threats, from state and non-state actors alike, are why the UK established the National Cyber Security Program in 2010, and are in the process of building the National Cyber Center this year, which will serve as a contact for both the public and private sectors, while simultaneously providing advice to those sectors on how to best mitigate cybersecurity risks.

Israel, however, is not the only nation from whom the UK has sought cybersecurity assistance. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s official visit to the United Kingdom last year, the two nations held high-level discussions on a series of joint cyber-related issues.