The UK government has announced that it will work with chipmaker ARM Holdings as it pumps more than £50 million into a new programme to improve the country’s cyber-security. This is the first tranche of funds allocated to implement new cyber-security laws.
As part of the plan, the Cambridge-based chipmaker will get £36 million to set up a new, hacker-resistant chip technology. This is the next phase of the government’s Digital Security by Design initiative, also backed by Google and Microsoft, said the announcement.
Another £18 million will be used for a new programme established to tackle disinformation, online fraud and the misuse of personal data, said the announcement.
"This will help to prevent incidents of online fraud, phishing emails, impersonating organisations online and viruses or other malware like ransomware, which cost the UK economy millions of pounds in lost productivity," said the announcement.
"Cyber-attacks can have a particularly nasty impact on businesses, from costing them thousands of pounds in essential revenue to reputational harm," said business secretary Andrea Leadsom.
"Investing in our world-leading researchers and businesses to develop better defence systems makes good business and security sense."
The association with Arm was announced at a time of growing hostility towards foreign takeovers. Japan's Softbank bought ARM Holdings in 2016.
The government has also announced a new ‘Prosperity Partnership’ between Toshiba Research Europe, University of Bristol and GCHQ to "develop more resilient wireless networks through new techniques to detect future threats and mitigate their effects".
Cyber-attacks can damage businesses significantly, from costing millions of pounds to causing reputational damage, making it critical to get ahead of the attackers, commented Robert Ramsden Board, VP EMEA at Securonix.
"Increased connectivity and digitalisation have made us more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, leading to a growing urgency to build a more cyber-resilient world. Therefore, cooperation between the UK Government, technology vendors and businesses is an important step in ensuring British businesses and the public are protected against cyber-attacks and online threats," he said.
Collaborations like these, between Industry100 and NCSC, will help form an important part of reducing cyber-attack exposure for many SMEs and larger organisations most at threat, said Rob Norris, enterprise and cyber-security VP at Fujitsu.
"The message is clear from the government: they recognise the threat from foreign and domestic actors and the havoc that it could play on businesses up and down the country. As the threats evolve, so must the funding and increased importance on awareness to combat those attacks. This is a big step in the right direction," he said.
However, this particular deal between the government and ARM Holdings has limited scope in tacking the problem, said ImmuniWeb founder and CEO Ilia Kolochenko.
"First of all, the number of attacks and exploitation vectors that are reliably addressable on a hardware level remains pretty narrow. In addition, the time UK business require to migrate to the new hardware platforms will be quite long, making attackers enjoying their impunity for the time being," he said.
Most of the cyber-attacks are caused by incomplete or outdated inventory of digital assets, and a vast majority of businesses in the UK and abroad is unaware of the location of their data, the number of applications or APIs they have, or the number of mobile devices connected to their internal networks, he explained.
"That is a root cause of the problem, and deserves urgent attention and mitigation. Therefore, I’d urge investing in a supplementary cyber-security initiative that's aimed at bringing visibility of data and assets to UK businesses."