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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

UK to host global cybersecurity centre

11 April, 2013
Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has announced plans to open the Global Centre for Cyber Security and Capacity Building at the University of Oxford

The UK government will invest £1m into the "the beacon of expertise" over the next two years, with the objective of helping countries around the world to develop the required technologies, skills and strategies to deal with evolving online threats.

Ross Brewer, vice president and managing director for international markets at LogRhythm commented:

“Modern cybercriminals work in a collaborative fashion, sharing information on targets, tactics and new approaches to infiltrate networks amongst themselves – often in state sponsored efforts to steal critical information from other countries. The planned cybersecurity hub at the University of Oxford is a way for the ‘good guys’ to collectively fight back, as the global threat can no longer be ignored.

“The UK government has long been thought to shy away from the issue of cyber security. Our own research last year validated that sense of public frustration, with 45 percent of respondents demanding that the government steps up the protection of national assets against cyber threats, and 43 percent believing that the threat of international cyber war and cyber terrorism must be taken very seriously now.  However, over the last year, government officials have upped the ante on cyber security and Britain is now leading the way with funding and initiatives to support the ongoing  international struggle against cybercrime – despite recent claims to the contrary.  This announcement heralds the next logical step to achieving that objective, and strikes a good balance, as the often proposed alternative of pre-emptive strikes could incite terrible consequences from an international relations perspective.  

“That said, while government funding, collaboration exercises and formal initiatives are certainly to be welcomed, businesses themselves must also be aware of the evolving cyber threat, and do all that they can to protect themselves from attacks on an organisational level. As we become increasingly connected and as data volumes grow, the potential for intellectual property or other critical information to get compromised grows exponentially.  To combat this, businesses must shift their mindset – and security policies – towards proactive, continuous monitoring of IT networks to ensure a 360 degree view that can detect even the smallest intrusion or anomaly before it becomes a bigger problem for all. Only then will initiatives such as the Global Centre for Cyber Security and Capacity Building be effective rather than ‘embarrassing’ – after all, you can only help those who are willing to help themselves.”

Graeme Stewart, Director of Public Sector Security at McAfee, shows support for the initiative but requests consideration for the SME sector.

Graeme said “With cybercrime becoming increasingly global in nature, it’s great to see the launch of this initiative which will combat cyber crime collaboratively, on a worldwide scale. McAfee is highly supportive of The Global Centre for Cyber Security and Capacity Building, but we would certainly encourage stronger support for the wider SME community in the UK, to be delivered in a digestible format. This sector makes up the supply chains of large corporate and government organisations, and therefore a substantial portion of their risk comes from this supply chain being naïve to the threats posed by suspicious cyber activity”

The news of the Global Centre for Cyber Security follows the Government’s recent announcement of plans to form a ‘Fusion Cell’, which will enable the sharing and collaboration of cyber threat intelligence between businesses and governments.

According to Paul Davis, VP of Europe at FireEye, “This is very welcome news indeed.  The UK has great expertise in the field of cyber security and so the Government is wise to be launching centres to utilise our best national resources and intelligence gathering capabilities in this way.

“As the Government looks for ways to protect our national interests against the escalating cyber threat, plans to increase collaboration and intelligence sharing are certainly a positive step in simultaneously combating the threat at a national level, and also aiding the international war on cybercrime.

“We are finally beginning to see significant action being taken at Government level to deal with the immense level of cyber attack facing Britain today.  The threat is severe to say the least, and is only likely to worsen as cyber criminals continue to become more adept and sophisticated in their methods of attack.   Today’s hackers are armed with highly advanced malware and are becoming increasingly targeted in their methods of launching attacks.  With big businesses and even nations now facing a greater risk than ever before, as attackers turn their attention to large enterprises in order to steal valuable data and Intellectual Property, and with nation-state attacks on the rise – take for instance the recent attacks on South Korean banks and broadcasters – proactive security must now be a priority across the board.  The fact is that traditional defences are quite simply obsolete as standalone systems and organisations must be investing in defending networks with the best available tools and processes and with continued education around the growing threat landscape.”

Wieland Alge, IT security pioneer and inventor of one of the most robust corporate firewalls and VP and General Manager EMEA, Barracuda Networks said:

“The governments announcement that a global centre for cybersecurity will be opened at Oxford University shows that cyber threats are a clear and present danger not only on home shores but the world over.

“The Global Centre for Cyber Security will create a collaborative bank of knowledge giving countries a greater understanding of past attacks and the present threat landscape. The sharing of attacks, vulnerabilities and damage is essential to develop countermeasures to protect critical infrastructure and keep the good guys a step ahead.

“As the number of cyber threats increase it will become even more important for countries, as well as the public and private sector to protect themselves adequately from attacks which can leave businesses paralysed. Teaching business’ workforces the necessary skills and technology to tackle online threats will prevent data from being found in the wrong hands.”

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