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UK looks to ‘design out’ cyber threats via hardware

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty


UP to £70m of the funding comes through the UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and would be backed by further investment from industry to ‘design out’ many forms of cyber threats by ‘designing in’ security and protection technology into chips and other hardware.

A further £30 million of government investment will aim to ensure smart systems are safe and secure. Smart internet connected devices can include anything from operating a central heating thermostat via a smart phone, to pressing a button to unlock the front door. There are expected to be more than 420 million such devices in use across the UK within the next three years. Power systems are particularly vulnerable to attack. 

“This could be a real step-change in computer and online security, better protecting businesses, services and consumers from cyber-attacks resulting in benefits for consumers and the economy. With businesses having to invest more and more in tackling ever more complex cyber attacks, ‘designing in’ security measures into the hardware’s fabric will not only protect our businesses and consumers but ultimately cut the growing cybersecurity costs to businesses,” said Greg Clark, business secretary.

Over 40% of UK businesses have experienced a cyber-security breach or attack in the last 12 months. Hackable home Wi-Fi routers can be used by attackers in botnets to attack major services and businesses. Moreover, consumers are often the worst affected by mass information leaks than the organisation that held their data. Businesses are having to spend increasing amounts on cyber security, up to 20-40% of their IT spend in some cases. And as more and more systems are connected, whether in the home or businesses, there is a need for security that is secure by design.

“We’re moving the burden away from consumers to manufacturers, so strong cyber security is built into the design of products. This funding will help us work with industry to do just that, improving the strength and resilience of hardware to better protect consumers from cyber-attacks,” said Digital Minister Margot James.

The £30m for the Ensuring the Security of Digital Technology at the Periphery programme will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation through the Strategic Priorities Fund. The programme aims to ensure that Internet of Things systems are safe and secure, particularly as more critical applications emerge meaning there is increased vulnerability to broader, more sophisticated cyber-threats. Effective solutions need to combine cyber and physical safety and security with human behaviour, influence new regulatory response and validate and demonstrate novel approaches. This will build on current investments including the PETRAS Internet of Things Research Hub and other activities supported through IoT UK.

www.gov.uk

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