How a £4 million Competition Will Ignite Innovation in Cyber Security

By Heath Davies, Chief Executive.

Cyber Security Funding

Whilst attending the first UK Global Cyber Security Innovation Summit, I heard Vince Cable announce £4m of government funding for UK cyber businesses to develop ideas for tackling cyber security threats – in a bid aimed at achieving the goal of £2b of UK cyber exports by 2016.

The amount of investment is not that significant, but it will give the industry a boost both in terms of innovation and collaboration. The technology and information sector in London, Southeast and East England is already growing faster than that of California, according to startup hub Tech City UK.

A key point that we champion throughout Clearswift is that innovation is empowered by a unified approach to cyber security. As Kevin Bailey pointed out in his recent blog on the Nato Summit:

"While Operation Waking Shark in the UK has proved to be a positive step forward in acting proactively to secure any weak points in the value chain, key to the success of a unified global defence system are unified open communications.”

This funding is focused on local networks of SMEs understanding not only how cyber security can impact their business, but how to work together to create innovative solutions.

Power in numbers
With hackers’ cyber skills evolving quicker than the average SME can evolve their own organization’s cyber security policy and technology, power in numbers can only serve to accelerate the development of SMEs. On average, the worst breaches for small organisations cost between £65,000 and £115,000 – which can have a huge impact on the business.
Cable’s announcement doesn’t just add fuel to the innovation discussion, it also adds the necessary fuel to the conversation at board-level and helps SME business leaders to take responsibility for the potential cyber threats their businesses face on a daily level.

Adaptive data leak prevention
All companies – big or small – have a responsibility to ensure their stakeholders’ information is kept 100% visible and secure 100% of the time, but this can only happen with the help of three things:

  1. The right technology in place
  2. A clear understanding of the persistent and ever changing threats (both internal and external)
  3. An educated workforce

These are key components of an information governance strategy. And in light of upcoming European legislation due to come into force soon, it has never been more crucial to have the necessary security policies in place.

This week’s announcement follows numerous government announcements on cyber security over the past year, including the BIS Information Economy Strategy. What will be interesting in this case is how the ‘winning organisation’ will put the funding to use and how - and indeed if - they will be measured on it? While growing government investment in cyber security is reassuring for UK companies in the midst of growing potentially company-crippling cyber threats, funding (or lack of it) has not always been the issue. Education on cyber security is key, as well as a unified approach to best practice, and there is a lot more room for progress here at board-level.

We look forward to monitoring progress…