Businesses must do more to boost cyber defences, says Nadhim Zahawi

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has urged firms to work more closely with the Government to better protect themselves.

Martyn Landi
Wednesday 19 October 2022 00:01 BST
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

UK businesses must start taking cyber crime more seriously and do more – including working more closely with the Government – to protect themselves, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has said.

Nadhim Zahawi, who is also the lead minister for cyber security, said companies must stop thinking of cyber security as “an issue just for company IT departments” and treat it as a business priority.

Mr Zahawi’s comments come as figures show 1.6 million people were victims of cyber crime in the UK last year, with tens of thousands of businesses also targeted.

The cyber threat we face is no longer an issue just for company IT departments – it is a board-level problem that must be met with board-level interventions

Nadhim Zahawi

Government research shows that only 23% of firms have a cyber security plan.

The National Cyber Security Centre’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service has received more than 13.7 million reports since it was launched in April 2020, leading to the removal of more than 95,000 scams.

Last week, GCHQ director Sir Jeremy Fleming also warned of China’s growing use of technology to bolster its influence overseas.

Mr Zahawi called on businesses to tighten up cyber security to also protect the wider UK economy, saying it was not possible to “achieve economic growth without economic security in a digital world”.

“We need organisations to do more to boost their cyber defences,” he said.

“It is clear from the number of businesses that have suffered cyber attacks that this is an area of vulnerability.

“Businesses need to understand that the cyber threat we face is no longer an issue just for company IT departments – it is a board-level problem that must be met with board-level interventions.

“So my message to businesses is clear: work more closely with us on building skills, training and online defences, which will have a positive impact on the successes of your companies and will in turn help us deliver our ambitious plan to increase economic prosperity and put more money in people’s pockets.”

A Business Board Toolkit has also been published to give businesses more guidance to improve their cyber security, as well as a 10 Steps to Cyber Security guide to help firms identify any measures they can introduce to boost security.

The Government has developed a National Cyber Strategy to boost the UK’s credentials and security in the digital world, underpinned by £2.6 billion in funding until 2030.

Mr Zahawi will chair a new National Cyber Advisory Board alongside Sharon Barber, the chief security officer for Lloyds Banking Group, meeting other industry leaders regularly to discuss live threats and how to counter them.

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