Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, has announced the publication of the long awaited UK cybersecurity strategy.
"The new Cyber Security Strategy we have published... sets out how the UK will tackle cyber threats to promote economic growth and to protect our nation’s security and our way of life," Maude wrote.
"The growth of the internet has transformed our everyday lives. But with greater openness, interconnection and dependency comes greater vulnerability. The threat to our national security from cyber attacks is real and growing. Organised criminals, terrorists, hostile states, and ‘hacktivists’ are all seeking to exploit cyber space to their own ends," Maude said.
The strategy revolves around four key objectives:
- Making the public safe online and ensuring the country is one of the best in the world for online business
- Making the UK more resilient in the face of cyber attack and better able to protect its interests
- Proving a more "open and vibrant" cyber security environment
- Having the knowledge, skills and capability to underpin these
Also key to the UK's plan is the elevation of trusted computing principles, which include advanced cryptography for data protection and mechanisms to ensure only authorized code is able to run on systems.
The strategy addresses concerns over cyber espionage and the defense of intellectual property in the private sector, as well as the need to further secure government and military systems.
"To defend against significant threats we need to continue the work we are doing to protect and prepare our Critical National Infrastructure. We also need to update our military defence capabilities for a new cyber world; this strategy outlines the creation of a new Joint Cyber Unit hosted by GCHQ which will develop our military capabilities to give the UK a comparative advantage in cyberspace," Maude stated.
The strategy demonstrates that the British government recognizes that future economic stability is in part dependent on providing a secure cyber marketplace and communications infrastructure in which the private sector can thrive.
"One of our key aims is to make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business. Currently, around 6 per cent of the UK’s GDP is enabled by the internet and this is set to grow. But with this opportunity comes greater threats. Online crime including intellectual property theft costs the UK economy billions each year. So we must take steps to preserve this growth, by tackling cyber crime and bolstering our defences, to ensure that confidence in the internet as a way of communicating and transacting remains," Maude continued.
The newly published strategy also makes note that the majority of systems that need to be protected are owned by and or administered by the private sector, and reveals plans for an expansion of public/private sector cooperation to raise security awareness and develop more rigorous standards, policy and best practices recommendation.
"Together with the private sector, we are pioneering a new national cyber security ‘hub’ that will allow the Government and businesses to exchange information on threats and responses. This promises to transform the way we manage cyber attacks and greatly strengthen our security capacity. We will work with the business services sector to raise industry awareness. We will also work with industry to develop private-sector led standards for cyber security that help consumers navigate the market in security products and give firms who are good at security the means to make it a selling point," Maude said.
The announcement from Maude also indicates that the British government will be looking to further protect consumers from cyber crime activity with a new Cyber Crime Unit through the National Crime Agency, which is slated to to be operational by 2013.
Lastly, the strategy reiterates the need to continue to work with other governments on an international level to combat threats from criminal operations and state-sponsored entities.