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Parliamentary watchdog: UK cyber skills must improve

With the UK’s ability to deal with cyber threats coming under increasing scrutiny, the National Audit Office (NAO) has said IT skills and awareness must improve if Britain is to ease the financial burden brought by online attacks.

Published today, an NAO report estimated that cyber crime costs the UK between £18 billion and £27 billion every year, stating that both businesses and the general public need to be more vigilant to minimise damage.

The parliamentary watchdog did however note improvement in the country’s overall cyber security strategy, which came into effect in November 2011 armed with £650 million of additional funding.

“Among progress reported so far, the Serious Organised Crime Agency repatriated more than 2.3 million items of compromised card payment details to the financial sector in the UK and internationally since 2011, preventing a potential economic loss of more than £500 million,” the report said.

“In the past year, moreover, the public reported to Action Fraud over 46,000 reports of cyber crime, amounting to £292 million worth of attempted fraud.”

Nevertheless, the NAO said closing the IT skills gap and increasing general public awareness were among the “key challenges” facing Britain in the cyber sphere.

"The threat to cyber security is persistent and continually evolving,” said Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office. “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," Morse added.

Image credit: Flickr (Ministry of Defence)