UK.gov creates £500K fund to help universities teach cyber skills

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The UK government is putting up a £500,000 fund to develop cyber security skills within universities and colleges, essentially helping them construct innovative teaching methods to provide the skills needed to protect the UK from hackers, malware and other information security threats.

The Higher Education Academy will administer the scheme.

The grant to universities was announced during a speech by Ed Vaizey, minister for the digital economy, during which he urged businesses to protect themselves against the growing threat of cyberattack by taking up the UK government’s Cyber Essentials scheme.

The latest figures reveal that 74 per cent of small businesses, and 90 per cent of major businesses, had a cyber breach of security in the last year.

More than 1,000 businesses have now adopted Cyber Essentials – the UK government-backed scheme which protects businesses against the most common threats on the internet.

It sets out five technical controls which will protect firms against the majority of internet threats, such as viruses, malware, and hacking.

“Trust and confidence in UK online security is crucial for consumers, businesses and investors," Vaizey told delegates to the Financial Times Cyber Security Europe Summit. "We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to do business online and Cyber Essentials is a great and simple way firms can protect themselves.”

The UK government's National Cyber Security Programme was launched in 2011 and backed with £860m investment over five years, an increase from the initial funding allocation of £650m. Last year the spending watchdog the National Audit Office criticised the programme by saying it had yet to deliver the promised economic benefits.

Other initiatives under the programme include a voucher scheme offering small- and medium-sized businesses up to £5,000 for specialist cyber security advice, including guidance on protecting new business ideas and intellectual property.

The scheme is administered by InnovateUK, the UK's innovation agency, and is open until 20 October 2015. ®

Bootnote

The lion's share of the initial £650m cyber-security budget – £383m or 59 per cent – went to the "Single Intelligence Account", and earmarked for the intelligence agencies, principally GCHQ, as previously reported.

The Home Office was allocated 10 per cent of this budget (or £65m), while the Ministry of Defence gets 14 per cent (£91m) and the government kept 10 per cent to build secure online services.

The Department of Business received just two per cent (£13m), earmarked for working with the private sector to improve resilience. It's therefore not unfair to conclude that education and business development initiatives are getting only a very small slice of a very big pie.

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