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Cybercrime: the government lays out its stall

05 December 2011

Currently, around 6 per cent of the UK’s GDP is enabled by the Internet and this is set to grow. But with this opportunity comes greater threats. Online crime, including intellectual property theft, costs the UK economy billions each year; even our utilities and military systems are said to be vulnerable targets. So tackling cyber crime and bolstering our defences has become a priority for the government, not just for reasons of national security, but to ensure that confidence in the Internet as a way of communicating and making everyday transactions, remains intact.

Indeed, the problem has been exercising government for some time and the Cabinet Office has now responded with the publication of a ‘Cyber Security Strategy’ for the UK. The 44-page document sets out how - in its authors' words – the UK will “support economic prosperity, protect national security and safeguard the public’s way of life by building a more trusted and resilient digital environment.” But not everyone is impressed by the quality of its research.

Data security provider, Sentrybay’s CEO, Dave Waterson, for one, takes exception to the Office of Cyber Security’s claim that 80 per cent of attacks could be kept at bay if companies invested in simple defences such as basic anti-virus and firewall software. According to Mr Waterson, basic anti-virus software is struggling to cope in the battle against cybercrime. “In fact, the vast majority of companies in the UK already have comprehensive anti-virus software and firewalls in place, but still the attacks are getting through these relatively ineffective measures,” he says. Increasingly, this comes from targeted attacks using keyloggers which go undetected, as Mr Waterson explains:

“Worryingly, detection rates for viruses are steadily reducing due to the rising use by cybercrime syndicates of virus attack kits, polymorphic (automatically changing) viruses, and the hiring of botnets to spread and hide the source of the keyloggers. Unfortunately the standard defences are no longer enough, which is why additional layers of authentication and specialised anti-key logging protection are now required. This must be realised and implemented if we are to stand any chance of making ground in this war.” 
The Cabinet Office’s strategy document is available here.

Make it in Great Britain – can you?
Launched in November 2011 by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Business Minister Mark Prisk, Make it in Great Britain is a campaign aiming to transform the image of modern UK manufacturing and to raise awareness of its importance for the economy. The campaign will culminate in an exhibition which celebrates the best of British manufacturing, to be held at the Science Museum at the time of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The exhibition will aim to highlight the successes of the manufacturing sector, show the true face of British manufacturing and encourage young people to consider a career in manufacturing industry.

If you want to get involved in an engaging experience that demonstrates how successful and innovative British manufacturing can be, and you have cutting edge products or processes made or designed in Great Britain, then you could be part of the Exhibition from July 24 to September 9 2012.

Expressions of interest are now being invited from those who wish their product or process to be considered. Interested parties should complete an online form here and explain what their exhibit is and how they feel it meets the key objectives of the Make it in Great Britain campaign. This includes explaining how a product or process could be displayed so it engages an audience. The deadline for completed expressions of interest is midday on January 6 2012.

On registering interest, organisations or companies will be sent a submission pack, which will request more information about a proposed exhibit as well as explaining the themes of the exhibition and necessary timings. The closing date for completed submissions is midday January 31 2012.

Health and safety
The government's plan to begin a major cut back of health and safety red tape as early as January is to be welcomed. Employment minister Chris Grayling has announced an immediate consultation on the abolition of large numbers of health and safety regulations and hopefully the removal of the first rules from the statute book within a few months of the consultation.

In January, a new 'challenge panel' will be established, which will allow businesses to get the decisions of health and safety inspectors overturned immediately if they have got it wrong. The move followed publication in November of the Lofstedt Review into health and safety legislation, commissioned by Mr Grayling in March 2011. This recommends that health and safety law should not apply to self-employed people whose work activity poses no potential risk of harm to others.

The changes, if implemented, would benefit around a million self-employed people. Expectations are that Health and safety regulations will be reduced by a third rising to over a half within the next three years, through combining, simplifying and reducing some 200 existing regulations. The report makes recommendations to ensure that employers are not held responsible for damages when they have done all they can to manage risks.

Health and safety is of paramount importance but our regulatory system has become a quagmire of bureaucracy and reform is essential if we are to encourage enterprise and provide employment. This can only be a significant step in the right direction.

Les Hunt

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