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Government fails to answer immediate challenge of resourcing skilled cyber security workers

The gap between the demand and supply of suitably skilled cyber security workers in the Critical National Infrastructure sectors was a ‘cause for alarm’, the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy concluded in its July Report: Cyber Security Skills and the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure.

The Report concluded that the shortage in specialist skills and deep technical expertise is one of the greatest challenges faced by the UK’s CNI operators and regulators in relation to cyber security, but that the UK Government had no real sense of the problem or how to address it effectively.

Today (13 Nov), the Committee publishes the Government’s Response.

Chair of the Committee, Margaret Beckett MP, said:

“Building cyber security capacity within Government and across Critical National Infrastructure sectors is a matter of utmost importance to the UK’s national security. Today’s Response from the Government accepts the need to think creatively about current and future challenges relating to cyber skills. This is a start.

“The Government sets store by its 2016 National Cyber Security Strategy, and today’s Response to our Report acknowledges that in terms of a standalone skills strategy, there is more to do. We have been assured that Government has begun work on that strategy, which they promise by the end of 2018. When it arrives, we will look carefully to ensure that this is the case.

“The UK has already seen the potential consequences when CNI is affected by a major cyber attack – demonstrated in the NHS. The Committee remains to be convinced that Government has grasped the immediate challenge of keeping CNI secure from cyber threats. Many of the plans set out in this Response will come to fruition in a decade’s time. It fails to answer our questions about today and tomorrow – and this is concerning.”

The Response also reveals that Ministers are developing the Government’s response following consultation on developing the UK’s cyber security profession. This includes the creation of a new UK Cyber Security Council to coordinate delivery of clearly defined objectives for the profession.

Cyber Security Skills and the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure, was published in July 2018.

The Joint Committee’s inquiry – Cyber Security: Critical National Infrastructure, is expected to report before the end of November 2018. 

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