IET: UK faces a current and future cyber security skills gap

A significant lack of skilled workers is hampering the UK's fight against cyber-crime, says the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

New research by the IET suggests that while cyber security threats are slowly gaining recognition among SMEs, they are only accorded a high priority by a minority of organisations and there is a clear need to raise both awareness and the protection of software embedded in their products.

Hugh Boyes, the IET’s cyber security expert, said: “With increasing threats to systems and new vulnerabilities emerging daily, we are working to raise awareness among the UK engineering and technology community of the need to improve the cyber security of both our critical national infrastructure and all the technology we use.”

The IET surveyed 250 Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to gain insight into current cyber trends. The survey found that only half of the SMEs were aware of the Government’s Cyber Security Strategy.

Of the 250 companies surveyed:

§  Only 14 per cent said cyber security threats were the highest priority and already felt they had sufficient skills and resources in place to manage the threat.

§  Only 30 per cent felt they had sufficient protection against potential threats to software embedded in their products.

The IET is supporting a number of initiatives aimed at tackling these problems. The Trustworthy Software Initiative is a public-private partnership which aims to make available a wealth of knowledge, experience and capabilities that already exist in the UK about trustworthy software development. As part of this initiative, material is being developed for use on computer science and engineering degree courses to explain the principles of trustworthy software development.

The IET is also leading an initiative with the BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT, The Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP), e-skills UK and the Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC) to develop a scheme to provide sponsorship for cyber security MSc courses at selected UK universities.

This initiative, which is being developed in collaboration with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), GCHQ, the Office for Cyber Security and Information Assurance (OCSIA), aims to give the sponsored students cyber security skills they can apply in their current job, or the opportunity to develop a career in a cyber security role.

The pilot scheme will be launching this year at three UK universities, and there are plans to expand further in future years.


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