The increasing threat to the UK’s critical infrastructure has prompted the government to commit more funds to cybersecurity defenses. In a recent speech, the UK chancellor Phillip Hammond promised to spend a further £1.9 billion on defenses to prevent foreign attackers from conducting successful attacks.
Hammond believes further investment is required in order for the UK to continue to be able to mount a defense against increasingly sophisticated methods of attack used by cybercriminals. According to Hammond, “If we do not have the ability to respond in cyberspace to an attack which takes down our power network – leaving us in darkness or hits our air traffic control system grounding our planes – we would be left with the impossible choice of turning the other cheek, ignoring the devastating consequences, or resorting to a military response.”
In addition to developing the infrastructure to respond to enable the government to effectively retaliate against cyberattacks, some of the funding will be directed to police units to help them tackle organized online crime. Some of the money will go on education programs and the training of more cybersecurity experts. According to Hammond, the government has committed to recruiting a further 50 cybersecurity experts to its National Crime Agency.
The government has already launched a number of initiatives to tackle the growing threat from online crime, in particular the spoofing of government email addresses. Cybercriminals have been conducting tax-specific campaigns using spoofed government email addresses in recent weeks. 50,000 spoofed emails were being sent each and every day in these tax-related campaigns. Hammond said that thanks to new methods used to verify emails, these attacks have been stopped and the email volume has been reduced to zero.
Efforts to develop new solutions to deal with the increased threat of cyberattacks will continue. The government plans to create a new Cyber Security Research Institute, which will be a virtual network of UK universities committed to developing new technologies to protect mobile devices from attack. A program of grants will also be launched to fund security start-ups that develop novel solutions to improve defenses against cyberattacks.
An in the United States, it is proving difficult to convince young people to study computer science. There is a dearth of talent and this must be improved if the UK is to be able successfully defend against cyberattacks. Unless the talent shortage is addressed, it will be an uphill battle.