A world-leading cyber security industry to protect and promote our digital economy

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey addresses Reform Conference - Cyber Security: assurance, resilience, and response

Ed Vaizey


Hello and welcome.

Thank you to Reform and Andrew Haldenby for inviting me to speak today. Thanks also to Mark Hughes and BT for hosting, and KPMG for supporting the event.

I’m going to talk about cyber security today and how it supports our economy and prosperity. The UK economy is growing and getting stronger. And it’s increasingly digital. The way the UK is embracing digital and adopting new technologies is a key strength. We’re world leaders in areas such as e-commerce. The digital aspects of our economy are of crucial importance to UK as they bring growth, productivity & prosperity.

As Sajid Javid said last week, it is part of the Government’s long term economic plan to improve productivity and support growth. It can reduce costs, and create efficiencies. But it can also radically change the way we do things and create new opportunities – from driverless cars, to block chain technology, to the exciting possibilities of quantum computing.

We also want to develop a highly skilled workforce, ensure there is world-class digital infrastructure in every part of the UK, and support high-quality science and innovation. These are all areas important to cyber security. At the end of June I gave a speech setting out the Government’s digital priorities for this Parliament: they included Europe, digital infrastructure, skills and cyber security.Good cyber security underpins the entire digital economy – we need it to keep our businesses, citizens and public services safe. Because the UK is a world leader in the use of digital technologies, we also need to be a world leader in cyber security.

This is why the Government is investing £860m in National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP) to protect & promote the UK, and we’re investing in cyber security despite the challenges faced by the public finances.

A huge amount has been achieved since the Programme started in 2011. We’ve transformed the UK’s approach to cyber security, with better knowledge & understanding in Government and industry. We’ve put new organisations and structures in place to help us, such as CERT-UK and the National Cyber Crime Unit inside the National Crime Agency.We’ve set up the Cyber Growth Partnership (CGP) – which I co-chair with BT – to support & promote the UK cyber sector. And, working in partnership with industry, we’ve started to transform business understanding and response, by getting cyber security out of the IT department and into the boardroom.

However, despite the good action being taken, the scale of the cyber threat is still significant. The recent Information Security Breaches Survey suggests 74% of small businesses and 90% of large ones had a cyber breach in the past year. These breaches can be hugely costly and damaging to businesses, which is why the Government will continue to work in partnership with industry and encourage business to take action.
One of our key priorities is Cyber Essentials. Cyber Essentials is the joint industry and Government scheme we launched last year setting out clear basic standards for cyber security. It is suitable for all businesses, large and small.If you adopt Cyber Essentials in your business, you will protect your business against the majority of internet-borne threats. It’s a no-brainer – and I’d like to see all businesses adopt it.

Hundreds of businesses – including many in the FTSE100 – have already got Cyber Essentials. Firms like Vodaphone, Barclays, GlaxoSmithKline, Standard Chartered and National Grid.We’re encouraging businesses right across the economy to adopt Cyber Essentials. We’re really serious about this, because it will have a transformative effect upon the cyber security of UK industry. So much so that suppliers to Government of most contracts and services are now required to hold a Cyber Essentials certificate.

We know we need to make faster progress helping smaller businesses with cyber security. We’ve already published best practice guidance for small firms and the Cyber Streetwise campaign is giving simple practical advice to companies.

To help small businesses further I can announce today that we’re investing one million pounds [£1 million] in a new Cyber Security Innovation Vouchers scheme. Delivered in partnership with the Government’s innovation agency Innovate UK, the £1 million will be available through vouchers up to £5,000 for small and medium sized firms. The companies can use them to protect themselves online, improve their cyber security and protect their intellectual property and innovative business ideas. The scheme builds on a previous successful scheme delivered by Innovate UK and BIS, and the vouchers will enable small businesses – among other things – to obtain Cyber Essentials certification.

As businesses increasingly take action on cyber security, this offers the UK cyber security sector opportunities to sell their innovative & world leading products and services. We have a strong and growing cyber security sector in the UK. It’s now worth over £17b – up from ten billion £10bn in 2013 – and It employs over 40,000 people, with exports growing at a significant pace. The Cyber Growth Partnership has been supporting and promoting the sector, finding new ways to unlock growth and ensure UK firms can access to overseas markets. Innovation is one of the keys to the current and future success of the UK cyber security market. We’re doing everything we can to support new ideas, cutting-edge research and academic endeavour. We recently held an “Agile Innovation Challenge” which brought together some of the best young minds in the UK to develop new cyber security products and services. We’re currently setting up a Cyber Security Pre-Accelerator to help start-up firms bring new products to market.

And back in March we announced two new Academic Centres of Excellence in cyber security research (ACEs) to help support cutting-edge UK research in cyber security. The new centres are at the University of Surrey and University of Kent – and they are detailed in a new brochure which we’re publishing today. Copies are available here at the venue. These are some of the ways we are both improving the UK’s knowledge and capability, and offering opportunities for growth through the development of new commercial products.

To further support innovation, I can announce today new Cyber Security Knowledge Transfers Partnerships backed up with £500,000 of funding. This £500,000 fund will be available via Innovate UK. The grants will encourage partnerships between academic institutions and cyber security companies and will also support growth and jobs creation.

Innovation is closely linked with skills. We can only innovate, grow and protect the UK if we have the right skills, now and in the future. The Government has now put in place interventions at every level of the education system to boost cyber security skills, from the new IT GCSE and initiatives to support coding in schools, to new cyber security content in FE and HE courses. Last year we developed a free online cyber security course with the Open University. The course is suitable for anyone with an interest and is freely available online over the next three years. I’m pleased to day that over 60,000 learners have participated in this so far. We’ve also put in place free online cyber security training for businesses and employees. There are now tailored modules for small businesses, lawyers & accountants and – launched last month – the procurement profession. We hope to add more of these in future.

But we know we still need to get more people into the cyber security profession to meet our expanding requirements. Which is why I’m pleased to announce today the launch of “Inspired Careers” a new online hub to promote the Cyber Security profession. The “Inspired Careers” hub is a one-stop-shop for information about cyber security careers, skills, courses and qualifications. It will help inspire young people & existing workers into the profession. I’d like to thank colleagues from CREST - the industry body for information security professionals – for developing it. The new ‘hub’ is available to see here today… look out for the tablet computers in the reception area during the break.

I’d like to finish by saying this issue is not going away. As I mentioned earlier, the cyber threat remains significant, but the UK is well-placed to respond to it. We are also well-placed to benefit, and have the opportunity to grow a world-leading cyber security industry to protect and promote our digital economy. The Strategic Defence & Security Review is currently looking at the future of cyber security and will report later this year. Whatever the outcome of that review, cyber security will remain a priority for Government and we will continue to tackle the danger posed by cyber attacks.

Thank you for listening.

Published 16 July 2015