In 2010, the UK government pledged that the National Cyber Security Programme will be ‘supported by £650m of new investment over the next four years’. However, it was revealed on BBC Newsnight this week that there are concerns as to how exactly this money is being spent. Government insiders admitted to the BBC that much of the funding has been directed at spying on other countries’ computer secrets, rather than on defending the nation’s critical infrastructure. There were also suggestions that the pledged sum is nowhere near enough to combat such a huge problem.
Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office who is responsible for the nation’s cyber security, has challenged this, telling Newsnight that the government’s investment is ‘on target and in line with our public spending forecasts’, and explaining that spending priorities must be regularly assessed in order to have a flexible cyber security response.
Ross Brewer, vice president and managing director for international markets at LogRhythm has made the following comments: "It’s inevitable that there will be some criticism of the government’s cyber security spending priorities, and while it is sensible to be prudent with the budget, today’s threat is very real and not going away anytime soon. There have been suggestions that much of the money is being set aside for a rainy day, but the problem with this approach is the fact that it is already pouring.
“It is fair enough to devote a certain proportion of the security budget to analysing the tactics of suspected enemy states, as this level of intelligence will be critical in defending against future attacks. However, it absolutely needs to be balanced with a level of protective monitoring of our own networks, as more often than not, the threats are already existing and multiplying within. It is this process of weighing up priorities that the government is seemingly falling short on, and it is leading to a further dip in consumer confidence.
“In our recent survey, 45 percent of UK consumers urged the government to step up its protection of national assets and information against cyber security threats, and 43 percent considered the threat of international cyber war to be something that needs to be taken very seriously. However, when asked, just 12 percent stated that the government is doing enough to protect the nation from cyber security threats, and my guess would be that number is now falling rapidly.
“Yes, there have been many high-profile cyber security promises from the government recently – but unfortunately, if these are perceived simply as a series of eloquent declarations that aren’t followed through properly, they hold very little water. If the UK is indeed determined to become a credible centre of IT security excellence and a ‘beacon of expertise’ in the global fight against cyber crime, there needs to be a little less talk and much more action to restore worldwide trust.”