Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has announced plans to open the Global Centre for Cyber Security and Capacity Building at the University of Oxford – something that he refers to as “a beacon of expertise’. The government will invest £1m into the centre over the next two years, with the objective of helping countries around the world to develop the required technologies, skills and strategies to deal with evolving online threats.
This comes just one day after the UK’s investment in cyber security was branded “embarrassing’ by Bob Ayres, former US cyber intelligence officer at the department of defence, and other security experts.
Ross Brewer, VP and managing director for international markets at LogRhythm, has made the following comments:
Modern cybercriminals work in a collaborative fashion, sharing information on targets, tactics and new approaches to infiltrate networks amongst themselves – often in state sponsored efforts to steal critical information from other countries. The planned cybersecurity hub at the University of Oxford is a way for the “good guys’ to collectively fight back, as the global threat can no longer be ignored.
The UK government has long been thought to shy away from the issue of cyber security. Our own research last year validated that sense of public frustration, with 45 percent of respondents demanding that the government steps up the protection of national assets against cyber threats, and 43 percent believing that the threat of international cyber war and cyber terrorism must be taken very seriously now.
However, over the last year, government officials have upped the ante on cyber security and Britain is now leading the way with funding and initiatives to support the ongoing international struggle against cybercrime – despite recent claims to the contrary.
This announcement heralds the next logical step to achieving that objective, and strikes a good balance, as the often proposed alternative of pre-emptive strikes could incite terrible consequences from an international relations perspective.
That said, while government funding, collaboration exercises and formal initiatives are certainly to be welcomed, businesses themselves must also be aware of the evolving cyber threat, and do all that they can to protect themselves from attacks on an organisational level.
As we become increasingly connected and as data volumes grow, the potential for intellectual property or other critical information to get compromised grows exponentially. To combat this, businesses must shift their mindset – and security policies – towards proactive, continuous monitoring of IT networks to ensure a 360 degree view that can detect even the smallest intrusion or anomaly before it becomes a bigger problem for all. Only then will initiatives such as the Global Centre for Cyber Security and Capacity Building be effective rather than “embarrassing’ – after all, you can only help those who are willing to help themselves.