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Confronting cyber threats to businesses and personal data

Friday October 18th, 2019

British businesses and the public are set to be better protected from hostile cyber-attacks and online threats like disinformation and cyber-bullyingGovernment Opportunities

Leading technology firm Arm is working with government to strengthen cyber security measures for businesses and the public

£36m investment will help make the UK a world leader in tackling many forms of cyber threats to online products and services

Around a third of businesses report having cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months – with cyber threats constantly evolving

British businesses and the public are set to be better protected from hostile cyber-attacks and online threats like disinformation and cyber-bullying through a new government-backed partnership with industry, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced today (Friday 18 October).

Government is partnering with Arm in a new project to develop new chip technologies that are more resistant to cyber threats, backed by £36 million in funding. This is the next phase of the Government’s Digital Security by Design initiative, also backed by Google and Microsoft.

The average cost of a cyber-attack on a business – where a breach has resulted in loss of data or assets – has increased by more than £1,000 since 2018 to £4,180. While doing the basics, such as having strong passwords and updating software regularly are the best defence for homes and businesses, having innovative hardware and systems solutions are critical to defend advanced technology and our defence systems.

This project has the potential to prevent hackers from remotely taking control of computer systems as well as targeting cyber-attacks and breaches, meaning more businesses providing online services are better protected. It will also create new business opportunities and help boost productivity.

Tackling disinformation

A further project, backed by £18 million government investment, through the Strategic Priorities Fund, will tackle some of the dangers of the online world from privacy abuses and wrongful use of data like disinformation and online fraud.

The initiative will help provide solutions to some of the issues identified in the government’s Online Harms White Paper, which sets out plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. The project will help understand what businesses and individuals need to reduce the harm they are exposed to by using online platforms and will aim to develop more trustworthy technology.

This will help to prevent incidents of online fraud, phishing emails, impersonating organisations online and viruses or other malware like ransomware, which cost the UK economy millions of pounds in lost productivity.

This investment comes in addition to £1.9 billion the government is already investing through its National Cyber Security Strategy to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.
Prosperity Partnerships

The government is also supporting a new ‘Prosperity Partnership’ between Toshiba Research Europe, University of Bristol, GCHQ and Roke Manor Research to develop more resilient wireless networks through new techniques to detect future threats and mitigate their effects – including financial extortion, terrorism and damaging or destroying established systems.
The pioneering project between Toshiba Research Europe and the University of Bristol, is one of six new collaborations announced by the government today, with £40 million government, industry and university investment into Prosperity Partnerships that aim to transform the way people live, work and travel.
Delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), major industry leaders, including Jaguar Land Rover, Eli Lilly and Company, Toshiba Research Europe, Microsoft, M Squared Lasers, Siemens and Nikon will team up with world-renowned universities and academics to help develop the technologies of the future.
Other projects include significantly reducing the time and cost of producing new drugs, speeding up new treatments for a range of conditions and developing the next generation of cleaner, low-emission hybrid vehicles.
The other new partnerships will:
Provide UK motorists with access to affordable electrified vehicles: Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Oxford are teaming up to accelerate the UK’s transition to zero emissions by researching the next generation of world-leading cleaner hybrid powertrains. As a result of the programme, the enhanced vehicles will significantly improve air quality, lower fuel bills and reduce emissions, helping the UK meet its net zero ambitions by 2050.

Allow doctors to spend more time with patients and reduce healthcare delays: A five-year partnership between Microsoft and the University of Cambridge aims to improve and enhance Artificial Intelligence (AI) through simplifying development and reducing errors, helping to transform sectors including healthcare and gaming, as well as improve business productivity. The project has the potential to help designers build better gaming experiences, improve how staff communicate and work in businesses around the world, and reduce healthcare delays for patients.

Powering Quantum Computers: M Squared Lasers and the University of Strathclyde will develop a new approach to scale up quantum computing by developing a system to handle large numbers of qubits, the tiny particles which will power quantum computers. The approach could accelerate drug design and improve healthcare, design new materials for aerospace and engineering, reduce traffic congestion on our roads and improve efficiency in distributing energy to homes and businesses.
Detecting life-threatening diseases like cancer: Nikon and UCL will partner to combine new techniques to gain more information from X-rays – akin to the transition from black and white to colour photography – putting the UK at the forefront of X-Ray Imaging (XRI). The partnership would have major repercussions across a range of sectors from medicine to security to manufacturing, aerospace and cultural heritage, including reducing false alarms at airport security and detecting life-threatening illness.

Reduce the cost and time to produce drugs and speeding up new treatments: Eli Lilly and Company and Imperial College London will develop advanced techniques for the rapid development of new drugs with fewer adverse effects to treat a range of illnesses and conditions. The partnership will put the UK at the cutting-edge of expertise and innovation of commercial pharmaceuticals and significantly benefit patients.

Prosperity Partnerships support existing strategic, research-based collaborations between business and universities to deliver societal and economic impact. The five-year partnerships announced today are supported with almost £18 million government funding, nearly £18 million from industry partners and £4 million from universities.

To date, 29 partnerships have received £195 million from the government, industry and universities.

Notes to editors

Around a third (32%) of businesses and two in ten charities (22%) report having cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months (DCMS Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019. The most common types are:

phishing attacks (identified by 80% of these businesses and 81% of these charities)

others impersonating an organisation in emails or online (28% of these businesses and 20% of these charities)

viruses, spyware or malware, including ransomware attacks (27% of these businesses and 18% of these charities).

Arm’s government-funded project will span a 5-year period and involve software companies, tools developers and leading academic institutions – including Cambridge University and Edinburgh University. Industry and academia will have the opportunity to test the new technology through a prototype called the ‘Morello Board.’

The £36 million funding forms part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – through which it has teamed up with major industry names including Google and Microsoft to tackle some of the most damaging cyber security threats faced by the UK.

In April 2019, the government published the Online Harms White Paper

About the Strategic Priorities Fund:

The Strategic Priorities Fund supports high quality research and development priorities. This is the second wave of funding. The SPF Wave 2 total programme funding allocation is £496.8m.

About the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The £36 million of government funding Digital Security by Design challenge will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The UK government is fully committed to defending against cyber threats and address the cyber skills gap to develop and grow talent. A 5-year National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) was announced in November 2016, supported by £1.9 billion of transformational investment.

The World Economic Forum Risks Report 2018 lists data fraud/theft and cyber-attacks as a key global risk.
You can read more about joint government-Industry investment in cybersecurity here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/global-businesses-including-google-and-microsoft-back-uk-to-block-cyber-threats-with-new-tech

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