Government calls for greater efforts to fight cybercrime

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman says “more needs to be done” to protect British businesses at LORCA cybersecurity event

Posted 30 March 2021 by Christine Horton

The government says more needs to be done to ensure COVID-19 doesn’t put British organisations at further risk from cyberattack.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, was speaking at LORCA Live next week, the flagship event from the UK government’s cybersecurity innovation programme.

“COVID has accelerated the reliance of our economy on digital infrastructure, and it’s vital that we ensure the toll the pandemic has taken on British businesses doesn’t disrupt our high cybersecurity standards, and that our infrastructure is secure and reliable,” said Warman.

“There’s much to be proud of, but it’s clear that more needs to be done, and LORCA’s work is crucial to ensure the continued growth of the cyber sector. Now more than ever, it’s important to support cyber innovation and growth.”

Warman quoted DCMS’ cybersecurity breaches survey, that was published last week, which shows fewer firms are following good practice. Only 83 percent of businesses have up to date antivirus software, down five percent from the previous year. Less than a quarter of businesses have a cybersecurity policy covering home working. The average cost of a cyberattack, though, is £8,500, rising to £13,500 for larger firms.

AI-based ‘scare stories’

Elsewhere, Robert Hannigan, former director of GCHQ dismissed artificial intelligence (AI)-based cyber threats, saying he has seen no evidence of such attacks.

“The cyber industry is great at scare stories, and I’ve read lots and lots of scare stories about criminal groups and even terrorists using AI, and to be honest, I’ve seen virtually no evidence for this at all, with a couple of exceptions. I would say that I think it’s again a confusion with automation.

“The conclusion I reached is…AI probably will come as part of this arms race, to attackers. But frankly, why would you bother, if you’re a cybercriminal group, to invest in and take trouble over AI, when you don’t need to?

“If you look at Solar Winds, for example, once the attack was launched into Solar Winds Corporation…. It was also in its sophistication, but quite appears to be quite sort of hand curated, and you can understand why the attackers might have wanted to do that, to hide themselves. And doing it at the scale and going to the trouble of doing it through AI would probably be at high risk for them.”

LORCA’s 2021 cybersecurity analysis shows that there’s been a 21 percent increase in the number of cybersecurity firms in the UK, up by almost 1,500 since last year. Similarly, the number of full time employees in the sector is up almost 10 percent by almost 47,000. Overall, the sector is worth nine billion pounds.