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UK businesses must do more to boost cyber defences, says Nadhim Zahawi

Oct 19, 20223 mins
Advanced Persistent ThreatsCritical Infrastructure

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Nadhim Zahawi says that cybersecurity is key to the UK’s economic growth.

UK businesses must start taking cybercrime more seriously and should do more to boost their cyber defences, according to Nadhim Zahawi, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and UK Government’s lead minister for cybersecurity. This includes working more closely with the government to better protect UK companies and the economic growth of the nation, Zahawi said. His words come just a few days after Sir Jeremy Fleming, Director GCHQ, warned that “fear’” is driving the Chinese state to manipulate the tech ecosystem and threaten global security.

Cybersecurity key to UK’s economic growth

Speaking this week, Zahawi said that UK businesses need to stop thinking of cybersecurity as “an issue just for company IT departments” and treat it as a business priority, stating that it is now a “board-level problem that must be met with board-level interventions.” He also highlighted the importance of cybersecurity to the wider UK economy, urging companies to tighten cyber defences and stating that it is not possible to achieve economic growth without economic security in a digital world.

“It is clear from the number of businesses that have suffered cyberattacks that this is an area of vulnerability,” Zahawi added. “So, my message to businesses is clear: Work more closely with us on building skills, training and online defences, which will have a positive impact on the successes of your companies and will in turn help us deliver our ambitious plan to increase economic prosperity and put more money in people’s pockets.”

Zahawi is set to chair a new National Cyber Advisory Board as part of the UK Government’s National Cyber Strategy 2022. The Board will bring together leaders from academia, industry, and the third sector from across the UK, allowing government to hear alternative viewpoints and harness networks from across the cyber ecosystem, mobilising them to support delivery across all five pillars of the strategy.

China’s politically motivated actions pose potential security threats

Speaking at this year’s Annual Security Lecture, GCHQ Director Sir Jeremy Fleming warned that The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “fear” of losing its grip on power, its people and the international rules-based system is threatening both UK and global security. He said that China has deliberately and patiently set out to gain strategic advantage by shaping the world’s technology ecosystems, potentially impacting issues critical to the UK’s wellbeing including intelligence, cyber operations and economic growth.

“I’m clear that we have no issue with the nation of China rising up to meet its potential, and we certainly have no issue with the people of China and the Chinese community who contribute hugely to life here in the UK. The UK wants to compete and to collaborate with a strong China,” Fleming stated.

However, it is how that strength is used – or misused – by the Chinese Communist Party that’s at the heart of the issues we face, he added. “We must also be clear that when it comes to technology, the politically motivated actions of the Chinese state is an increasingly urgent problem we have to acknowledge and address. That’s because it’s changing the definition of national security into a much broader concept. Technology has become not just an area for opportunity, for competition and for collaboration, it’s become a battleground for control, values and influence.”

In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, this as a major risk to our future security and prosperity, Fleming continued, and without the collective action of like-minded allies, the divergent values of the Chinese state will be exported through technology.

UK Editor

Michael Hill is the UK editor of CSO Online. He has spent the past 8 years covering various aspects of the cybersecurity industry, with particular interest in the ever-evolving role of the human-related elements of information security. A keen storyteller with a passion for the publishing process, he enjoys working creatively to produce media that has the biggest possible impact on the audience.

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