Government is not spending enough on cyber security awareness, says Labour's Chi Onwurah

By Sooraj Shah
25 Jul 2013 View Comments

The government is not spending enough on cyber security awareness, according to the Labour MP and shadow Minister of the Cabinet Office, Chi Onwurah.

In an interview with Computing, Onwurah, who is Labour MP for Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, acknowledged the government's recent work on cyber security before claiming that more needs to be spent on awareness.

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"I think this government has done many good things when it comes to cyber security. They have certainly raised its profile and are investing significantly in cyber security at a national level," she said.

"There was a £650m sum that went into cyber security, but almost all of that goes in at the national level - the GCHQ level - to deal with the national threat.

"This is very important, but cyber security is an area more than any other where we are only as strong as our weakest link, and there needs to be more general awareness throughout the population in a positive sense. 

"My concern is that the level of awareness in consumers and small businesses at the moment is all in terms of a threat and it is putting people off technology," she added.

Onwurah explained that there is a growing digital divide in places such as Newcastle, and by not focusing on raising awareness to deal with cyber threats, it "entrenches the digital divide" as well as leaving the UK more insecure at a national and commercial level.

In the government's plans to invest £650m over the four years between 2010 and 2014, only £9m has been earmarked for cyber security awareness and education. Onwurah believes this is disproportionately small.

"There needs to be a greater profile of cyber security in a positive way and I don't believe the balance of spend right now is right. In terms of priority it is giving it to national cyber security over the awareness more generally among the UK population," she said.

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