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Infosec 2013: UK vendors can profit from growing cyber threats, says government minister

In the opening keynote of Infosecurity Europe 2013, government minister Chloe Smith said members of the UK cyber security industry can profit from the growing threats online, as their services will become more in-demand than ever before.

Smith, the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform at the Cabinet Office, addressed a packed conference room as she emphasised the government's determination to protect the UK's digital infrastructure and provide a boost to its cyber security industry.

“Cybercrime, ranging from IP theft, to cyber espionage, to online fraud, costs UK companies billions of pounds a year, and as businesses and governments put more of their operations online the scope for potential targets will continue to grow,” Smith warned.

But the Conservative Minister said improving understanding and the capacity to deal with the problems at hand could serve to benefit the UK’s cyber security industry, providing an economic boon to mitigate some of the wider financial damage inflicted by cybercrime.

“As we are successful in raising awareness and raising cyber security standards across the private sector, growth and demand for products and services to support this should follow. So we are trying to put in place the right environment for a vibrant, self-sustaining cyber security marketplace, with good UK-based cyber security providers."

Smith was keen to highlight the growing value of the country's cyber security sector, adding that, “At the last count, there are over 2,300 UK companies in the cyber security sector. In total, these companies support well over 26,000 jobs. That’s actually 16 per cent of all UK security employment."

The industry evidently has its work cut out in the current security climate. When the current government came to power in 2010, it identified cyber attacks as one of the four biggest threats to the UK's national security, and Smith said the threat had not eased. As a case in point, she revealed that the security gateway in the government's network, on average, blocks a staggering 33,000 malicious emails every month.

Yet Smith was adamant the problems could be spun into a positive course of action for IT companies in the UK. “Cyber threats are an increasing challenge for UK businesses but they also present many exciting new opportunities as well," she said.

"We are making every effort on the government’s part to address the threats – we’ve been improving our ability to detect them – and we seek to defend UK interests in cyber space. We need to work with the industry in real and meaningful partnerships to ensure that UK businesses capitalise on this growing demand. That is for the benefit of Britain as a whole.”

ITProPortal continues to roam Earls Court for the latest news and insight from Infosec, so stay tuned to the site. In the meantime, find out why this years's show may be the most significant in Infosec's 18-year history.