Government Security Minister Resigns

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Baroness Neville-Jones has announced her resignation as the Government’s Cyber Security Minister

Baroness Neville-Jones, Minister of State for Security has resigned from the government at her own request. One of her key interests was the area of cyber security.

In her resignation letter, published on the Number 10 government website, Neville-Jones thanked the Prime Minister “for the privilege of having served in your government for the past year.”

She went on to add that she thought the time was now right, after having broached the topic with David Cameron a few months ago.

“Cyber Security is now established as a front line priority for the government – indeed for the country – as a whole and serious work is in hand on developing a long term strategy,” wrote Baroness Neville-Jones.

New Role

The Prime Minister moved quickly so as not to lose the experience of Neville-Jones and appointed her as Special Representative to Business on Cyber Security.

Baroness Browning meanwhile will take over her old role at the Home Office.

“You can be very proud of the part you have played, and the impact you have made,” wrote the Prime Minister. “You drew up the original plans for the National Security Council and the National Security Strategy which underpins its work.”

“You have also rightly insisted that cyber security should receive much great attention, which is now happening,” wrote the Prime Minister. “I am delighted you have agreed to continue to play a role in this vital area.”

Despite the warm words, there are reports in the media that Baroness Neville-Jones was becoming increasingly unhappy as she felt that her role was being bypassed. Although it seems she got on well with Home Secretary Theresa May, according to the Daily Telegraph she felt that decisions on security matters were often made over her head.

The newspaper also quoted a unnamed civil servant as saying that the peer felt the Home Secretary was getting the credit while she did the work.

Cyber Security Focus

Whatever the truth behind these rumours, there is little doubt that cyber crime has gained greater government recognition under her tenure.

The Peer has also worked hard to encourage the private sector to work in partnership with the government to increase the UK’s cyber security efforts, and presumably her new role will allow her to continue this approach.

In February a report written by Detica and the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance, revealed that cyber crime is costing the UK economy £27 billion annually.

“I am not surprised at the £27 billion figure,” Greg Day, director of security strategy for McAfee, told eWEEK Europe UK at that time. “But I am exceedingly positive that the government is now trying to quantify the scale of problem.”

The Coalition government for its part has significantly increased the amount it spends on cyber security. In October’s security defence review, David Cameron set aside £650 million for the UK’s cyber security initiative.

Home Secretary Theresa May has previously promised increased support for cyber-warfare measures after recognising its growing threat, and last November Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey outlined the cyber warfare threats being encountered by the UK, and the steps that the government was taking to tackle it.

Despite the fact that a cyber-security expert has lost her seat at the political top table, the security industry welcomed her continuing role.

“Corporate cyber-crime is a growing issue, and something which could seriously harm UK business in the future.” said anti virus firm AVG’s global head of free, Tony Anscombe. “The recent Sony hacking scandal highlighted how vulnerable even the largest businesses can be to cyber attacks, so it’s only right that the UK Government has recognised the issue and appointed Baroness Neville-Jones to this new position. Hopefully she can work with UK businesses to ensure they are protected against the growing threat.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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