In the latest instalment of our Spotlight series, Neuways managing director Martin Roberts talks about the new National Cyber Force and considers whether UK businesses will benefit.
Q: Hello Martin. Boris Johnson recently announced a £1.5bn investment for the newly-created National Cyber Force. Its main purpose will be to counter threats from terrorists, criminals and hostile states – but what will that mean for businesses of all sizes across the country?
There will absolutely be benefits for the whole country over time. Any large-scale research projects that can improve the country’s networks and protection will benefit and trickle down to us all in due course.
Look at the Apollo space missions, and the value they brought to the world afterwards. The spend was more than justified through innovations like, vacuum-packed food, thermal blankets and smaller cameras, all of which derived from those missions and changed the world as we know it today.
There’s always an unexpected trickle down, and a lot of it is symbiotic. There is a balance between private enterprise and government investing in research and creating innovations that impact all of our lives. The more spent, between government and private enterprise, the more significant the impact will go on to be for all of our cyber security.
Q: The creation of the National Cyber Force suggests cyber security is now playing a larger role in the Government’s defence strategy. Why is this important and how will the £1.5bn investment protect UK businesses?
My understanding is that we have to make sure we have a defensive and offensive capability to ultimately knock out surveillance systems, in the event of an escalating conflict.
This could be described as a warm war, where you seek to gain advantage over your enemies through disrupting infrastructure. This could be by knocking out power sources or railways, for example, which would cause absolute chaos.
It might seem strange for businesses to be appreciating this spend in this kind of context, but it will protect them in the event of a cyber war, which is almost inevitable at some point. Upon reflection any spend is good, because it will protect us from nefarious means and there are always learnings that come with spend of this size.
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Q: You’ve spoken about hacking on a country-by-country scale. Does that mean smaller businesses can assume they are safe?
Absolutely not. There are more cyber criminals out there looking to disrupt businesses than ever before, and everyone should remain on high alert or they could be next.
There are plenty of malicious actors out there. One-man bands, who are not associated with governments and they are the great threat to business. The majority of hackers are out to extract money, as well as a handful who do it for fun, just because they can.
Unless a business was involved with national security, you would think they shouldn’t worry, but there can be unintended consequences. If a hacker is hacking one government on behalf of another government, there can be innocent bystanders, innocent businesses in this case, who are victims along the way.
We have our own evidence of this. At Neuways, we have a software helpdesk product called Neuqs, which was once hit by a hacking attack originating in Iran! They obviously misunderstood the name of our product, which just goes to show you the trouble that mistakes can potentially cause.”
Q: It was not always the case that businesses, and indeed governments, had to budget as much money for their cyber security. It’s an expense many could do without – but I guess you’d argue the threats are simply too great to ignore?
Absolutely. Protection is so much cheaper and less damaging than cure. It is very sad that we have to put so much effort into ensuring our computing systems remain safe and our companies are secure.
Over the past few decades, computing has moved from a novel, interesting subject area which allows us to do so much more from a productivity perspective to the present day where there is such a lot of overhead and consumption of money required just to keep things safe and operational.
The reliance we all have on technology and cyber security shows us we would all be impacted a great deal if there was ever a problem!
Derby-based Neuways is a member of our Advisory Board. The firm is a managed service provider (MSP) that delivers bespoke IT solutions with a security-first focus. With decades of industry experience supporting over 300 companies worldwide, Neuways helps organisations of all sizes reach their growth potential with the effective implementation of technology. Neuways offers exceptional IT services, support, and strategies with integrity, honesty, and outstanding expertise.