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Cyber security skills gap must be addressed – NAO

The UK’s critical infrastructure is under threat as companies fail to take cyber security seriously enough, a new report suggests.

The NAO has found that the UK suffered 44 million cyber attacks in 2011, estimated to cost up to £27bn a year. The report suggests that there is a skills gap, leaving the country unprotected against such attacks. This could be due to a lack of promotion of science and technology at school, it states.

The Government’s cyber strategy has already started to deliver benefits, but the NAO has highlighted six key challenges: the need to influence industry to protect and promote itself; address the current and future ICT and cyber security skills gap; increase awareness of the importance of cyber security; tackling cyber crime; getting Government to be more agile and joined-up; and demonstrate value for money.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The threat to cyber security is persistent and continually evolving. Business, government and the public must constantly be alert to the level of risk if they are to succeed in detecting and resisting the threat of cyber attack.

“It is good that the Government has articulated what success would look like at the end of the programme. It is crucial, in addition, that progress towards that point is in some form capable of being measured and value for money assessed.”

Margaret Hodge MP, chairwoman of the Public Accounts committee, said: “The use of the internet for commerce and communication is a force for good, but it also poses new and growing threats that government, businesses and individuals cannot ignore.

“With around 80% of the internet in private hands, crossing international boundaries and spanning different jurisdictions, the Government cannot approach internet security in isolation.

“Having a robust and well thought-through strategy is crucial if the Government is to respond effectively to cyber threats.”

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