UK Digital Strategy Takes Aim At Cyber-Security, Skills Gap

Nadine Dorries at London Tech Week 2022. Image credit: Nadine Dorries/Twitter

Security expert praises new government digital strategy for much-needed focus on cyber-security and reducing skills gap as London Tech Week begins

A security expert has praised the government’s new digital strategy for placing an emphasis on cyber-security and skills shortages, warning the UK’s digital infrastructure is at risk from the lack of appropriate tech talent.

Digital secretary Nadine Dorries introduced the strategy yesterday at the beginning of London Tech Week.

Its provisions include a reform to digital regulations, supporting innovation in universities and the private sector, making it easier for tech companies to raise funds on the public markets and improving digital elements in public services.

Dorries arrived at London Tech Week in an autonomous vehicle to announce the new strategy and told attendees she felt “absolutely safe” in the driverless car.

Rishi Sunak at London Tech Week 2022. Image credit: Rishi Sunak/Twitter
Rishi Sunak at London Tech Week 2022. Image credit: Rishi Sunak/Twitter

‘Tech superpower’

She said the new roadmap would “reinforce Britain’s status as a global tech superpower”.

The government released figures on Monday showing UK tech companies raised £12.4 billion in venture capital in the first five months of this year, more than in all of 2020 and more than China and India.

“Our small island is now only second to the US, and almost at the very top of the global league table,” Dorries told the event.

Chinese tech venture capital funding has declined sharply in the wake of a regulatory crackdown on the country’s tech sector and ongoing Covid-19 restrictions that have deterred investors.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who also spoke at the event, said it was important to “embrace new technologies and the people and culture that create them” and that the country “stands on the cusp of a new era of innovation and change”.

Sunak said the government is reforming the UK’s listing rules to make it easier for tech firms to raise funding and highlighted recently announced visa changes to allow more “high potential” individuals from global top universities into the UK to boost skills.

Skills shortage

Mark Lamb, chief executive of IT security firm, said the new digital strategy makes it “clear the government recognises (the) importance” of cyber-security.

“Building more resilient infrastructure is a critical element in carving out a secure future for the UK because much of the technology our society is built on was never developed with security in mind,” he said.

“We are really starting to see the consequences of this now. Unless we act, it’s only going to get worse.”

He said reducing the cyber skills shortage is also “critical” because “businesses simply don’t have the skills needed to keep their networks secure”.

“While large enterprises will often employ big security teams, the small to mid-sized enterprises are largely under-resourced but the risk of attack is just as high, and sometimes the consequences of these attacks can be even greater. We need to bridge this gap.”