After Childcare Vouchers and Luncheon Vouchers the UK Government has a new token to help businesses.
This one aims to defend them against online theft and hacking. Junior Cyber Minister Chloe Smith MP (Conservative) is offering 100 lucky firms an Innovation Voucher worth up to £5,000.
That may seem a small amount compared to the £27 billion estimated to be lost through security breaches in the past year. Perhaps the Voucher scheme is more important politically than financially, as 30-year-old Smith is keen to be seen as a pro-active, ambitious minister in the campaign against hacking. The vouchers come with new guidance for all small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and must be invested in ‘an idea or problem that is a challenge’.
Launching the scheme with a package of other measures at the InfoSec industry gathering in London, Smith said “Making a difference often means forging new partnerships – not just with government but business to business’.
Smith detailed plans for cyber security lessons in schools from September 2013, a Growth Partnership to help British firms get ahead in the security industry and a roadshow that will travel the UK promoting these new schemes.
For cyber expert Bill Walker of QA, the emphasis on education is the key. ‘Lessons need to be far more challenging and interesting. There’s no point teaching teenagers how to make a PowerPoint presentation. That’s not ICT.’
Walker’s company is already training apprentices up to NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) level. Hear more…Bill Walker of QA
The vouchers are part of a ‘carrot and carrot’ approach to cyber security in which the Government is playing down the penalties for allowing data breaches and encouraging businesses to report fully and promptly any incident which might mean that confidential data had been compromised or lost.
It follows Conservative Cyber Minister Francis Maude’s announcement of a Fusion Cell system – based on the US model – for sharing information about cyber security issues with a dedicated team of Government-approved industry experts, security service personnel and police.
The Fusion Cell reporting system is open to all – SMEs, large corporations or public service whistleblowers. Authorities across the world now recognise that potential attacks on the critical national infrastructure can represent a real danger.
At the launch of the Fusion Cell scheme in London last month, President Obama’s former cyber security czar, Howard Schmidt, welcomed the move. Schmidt has told Future Intelligence in an exclusive interview of the lessons he learned in office about balancing the conflicting demands of trade interests and national security, and of his fears for the infrastructure which could be vulnerable to attacks that are really quite crude and rudimentary.
Hear that exclusive interview here…