Government investment in cyber security awareness "just not enough"

By Danny Palmer
22 Jan 2014 View Comments
mark-brown-ernst-and-young

The government needs to invest far more resources into its Cyber Streetwise education campaign about online threats if it's actually going to tackle issues surrounding cyber security.

That's according to Mark Brown, director of UK and Ireland Information Security Practice for professional services firm Ernst & Young. He made the remarks as part of a roundtable discussion about cyber security hosted by IT security firm Websense in London today.

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Launched earlier this month, the Cyber Streetwise campaign includes a website, radio commercials and adverts on public transport, all of which encourage citizens to take as much care with online security as they would in the real world.

But Brown suggested that while the campaign demonstrates the government is going in the right direction, it needs to up its game in order to be truly successful, and that will require a larger pool of resources than the current £860m budget which has been set aside.

Suggesting that the "the maths works out at £3 per person, per year in the UK" in terms of government cybersecurity spend on citizens, Brown accused this example of being "symptomatic of the entire government's national cyber security strategy".

Brown argued that the total yearly investment of £4m per year for an associated Get Safe Online campaign is "just not enough".

A solution, Brown suggested, is to make any campaign designed to improve awareness about cyber threats and cyber security as hard hitting and prevalent as those for drink driving or road safety.

"If the UK government is serious about this being a public safety agenda – and that's where they're trying to take it both for a business and individual – how much have they spent on drink driving campaigns? Or crossing the road safely campaigns?" he asked.

Brown argued that in order to achieve this, Cyber Streetwise needs more financial clout in order to achieve true awareness about cyber threats.

"It's that level of campaign investment that is required and I don't think Cyber Streetwise [matches that]. The concept and idea behind it is right, but is there sufficient investment in it to achieve what its marketing intended?"

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