Today the UK is dependent on digital infrastructure. From our overall economy to an individuals social activities, we are heavily reliant on the Internet, cloud computing and data centres.

To put this into context, the Competitive Analysis of UK Cyber Security Sector study estimates that 80% of homes have Internet access, and the number of people who connect via their mobile has increased over the last three years from 24% to 51%.

Business is also moving steadily into cyberspace. Nearly all communication, whether business-to-business or with clients, happens electronically. Even the government uses the Internet and cloud computing when communicating with the public and in procurement. But with these changes comes risk.

There is the increasing threat to the UK from cyber attacks, both internally and externally. These can include criminal behaviour (hacked accounts/stolen identity), hacktivism (protest/political activism), and espionage (corporate/government).

We associate war campaigns with the physical, but due to todays electronic society attacks are now virtual. Cyber warfare is both cost and resource effective. You only need a small team to execute an attack rather than a whole army.

A cyber attack can efficiently and effectively degrade your opposing forces digital and physical assets by using their own technology against them. These attacks can ignite a destructive chain reaction that can have the same detrimental effects as a conventional war.

The fear is that future cyber attacks will target key aspects of the UKs infrastructure, such as e-commerce, health services, information assets and the government. Attacks such as these will leave the UK without vital resources and can affect our ability to communicate.

For this reason the National Security Strategy has highlighted cyber attacks as one of the top security risks posed to the UK. The government is investing £860 million towards the National Cyber Security Strategy.

The UK government is taking steps forward in order to combat this problem. Plans have been put in place to develop the current National Cyber Security Strategy. This includes the development of the British Computer Emergency Response Team, National Cyber Crime Unit, and the Joint Cyber Reserve Unit.

The Ministry of Defence is currently in the process of creating the Cyber Reserve Unit, appealing to computer experts, hackers and programmers to become reservists alongside existing forces.

The MoD has also launched a public-private sector partnership in the form of the Defence Cyber Protection Partnership. The DCPP is a culmination of nine UK defence and telecoms firms and government agencies.

Although UK cyber defences blocked over 400,000 cyber attacks last year, the threat is real and more needs to be done to truly address the problem of cyber warfare.

Cyber security needs to be approached holistically. As well as risk management and protection, we need the ability to counterattack security threats. Technology is constantly expanding and evolving; we need to be able to change with it.

Cyber security is incredibly important to the UKs economy. Developments in cyber security are needed to gain assurance that business, government, as well as the personal digital affairs are secure.

Robert O’Brien | CEO MetaCompliance | @MetaCompliance

metacomplianceBio: This article was written by Robert O’Brien, the CEO of Metacompliance, leading information security and compliance software specialists. Robert has a keen interest in Cyber Security and is passionate about the need for a UK based software sector, particularly in the area of IT Security and Cloud.

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