The cyber sector can deliver jobs for underrepresented groups. (This article features in Prospect's cyber resilience supplement)by Jo Platt / August 28, 2019 / Leave a comment
The issue of Huawei’s involvement in our 5G telecoms network has prompted growing public curiosity about cybersecurity; the Chinese technology firm was even raised on the doorstep in my constituency a few weeks ago. We are all becoming more alert to the ways in which our lives are dependent on—and affected by—technology.
From household appliances connected to public 5G networks to states developing offensive cyber-capabilities, the world around us is changing—and so is the nature of the challenge faced by the government. Questions of privacy, integrity and safety become paramount. How can we secure our networks and take the country with us on that process?
There is much work to do. According to a cybersecurity study by insurance firm Hiscox, seven out of 10 organisations fail the readiness test. Meanwhile Cyber Essentials, the government-backed scheme to help organisations protect themselves, is yet to deliver the results we need.
As digital technology becomes increasingly intertwined with our critical national infrastructure, building a strong domestic cyber sector is an issue of genuine national significance.
Despite the scale of the challenge, and its implications for national security, the cyber question should be approached in a progressive and optimistic way. There is a great opportunity here to create jobs, rebuild industry and establish international leadership in a sector that will only continue to grow in size and importance over the coming years.
In this sense, Labour’s approach to cybersecurity should mirror its approach to the climate emergency. While the Tories are dragging their heels, insisting that proper action on climate change will be burdensome and costly, Labour has set out proposals for a Green Industrial Revolution to create thousands of new green jobs.
When it comes to cyber, however, we are already seeing the cost of inaction. One part of the Huawei scandal is that we are without a home-grown tech sector capable of manufacturing the infrastructure needed for 5G, in contrast with China, the US and Scandinavia.
The government estimates that 54 per cent of all businesses and charities have a basic technical cybersecurity skills gap. Reducing this will require the expansion of cyber education and training.
This must deliver much-needed secure, skilled and well-paid employment. But we also have a duty to ensure the…