Background to the formation of Cyber Security Clusters
In 2011, the updated UK Government’s National Security Strategy classed “cyber security” as one of the top priorities for national security, alongside international terrorism, international military crises and natural disasters.
In response to this classification, the Government published the UK Cyber Security Strategy in November 2011. It sets out how the UK will support economic prosperity and protect national security by building a more trusted and resilient digital environment.
Four Strategy Objectives were published in the UK Cyber Security Strategy:
- Make the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business in cyberspace
- Make the UK more resilient to cyber attack and better able to protect our interests in cyberspace
- Help shape an open, vibrant and stable cyberspace that supports open societies
- Build the UK’s cyber security knowledge, skills and capability
Each year, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, has provided a Progress Report explaining what has been implemented to prevent cyber crime and make the UK a safer place to do business. For example:
- Setting up a National Cyber Crime Unit within the National Crime Agency, bringing together Police eCrime Unit and SOCA
- Building the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) with businesses to allow the exchange information on cyber threats in a trusted environment
- Providing cyber security advice to businesses such as the 10 Steps to Cyber Security Booklet already downloaded by more than 7,000 businesses.
- Working with industry on cyber security standards such as IASME and the Cyber Essentials Scheme to give organisations a clear baseline to aim for to protect themselves against the most common cyber security threats.
- Making more than £500,000 available to UK SMEs via Cyber Security Innovation Vouchers to improve their cyber security and protect their business ideas, administered by the Technology Strategy Board.
In addition to these Government initiatives, indirect support is also provided for individuals, organisations and groups who want to make a contribution to the combined effort of achieving the UK Cyber Security Strategy Objectives.
A good example of this is the formation of Cyber Security Clusters.
A number of Clusters have been formed that are centred around universities. There are 12 centres for excellence in academic research in this field, where the body of knowledge on cyber crime and cyber security is being expanded by students and faculties. These Clusters increasingly involve input from specialist cyber security companies and organisations who’s “real-world” experience helps to accelerate the learning process and act as a catalyst for ideas and a proving ground for innovation.
More recently, Clusters have started forming comprised entirely of small businesses. This approach was pioneered by the Malvern Cyber Security Cluster - a group of more than 50 small cyber security companies, centred in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, who cooperate on a range of initiatives to grow their cyber security businesses, improve the cyber security of local enterprises, and also raise awareness of cyber security in their combined customer base.
The success of the Malvern Cluster has led to the formation of a UK Cyber Security Forum under which a number of new Clusters are being formed. These include the North West, North East, Cambridge, London, South Wales and more are springing up all the time.