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Cyber security post-COVID-19

On 21 May, techUK hosted the seventh in its series of webinars exploring the post-COVID-19 world, focusing on cyber security.

The webinar in its entirety can be viewed above

The expert panel was comprised of:

  • Sian John MBE, EMEA and APJ Director, Cybersecurity Strategy, Microsoft
  • Raj Badiani, Head of Digital, Raytheon UK
  • James Sullivan, Head of Cyber Research, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)
  • Dan Patefield, Head of Programme – Cyber and National Security, techUK (Moderator)

The discussion focused on two distinct themes. The first of these saw the panellists discuss how COVID-19 disruption has posed immediate challenges for the cyber security sector. As vast numbers of people have switched to working from home, often hundreds of miles away from the physical office, UK citizens have found not only new ways of working but of living. Panellists touched on the technical challenges, from the increasing threat surface to the uptick in criminal activities such as phishing. The cyber security industry has worked tirelessly to mitigate against these challenges, and we have seen efforts to improve home working software, tools to maintain operational resilience and new initiatives from the NCSC on phishing.

Also significant, are the cultural challenges posed by the disruption. Away from the office people must communicate differently both in their roles but also with organisation. Support with IT access is also being done remotely and so awareness of cyber security is even more important. We have seen this not only in the work environment but in people’s personal lives as they socialise digitally, increase online shopping footprints and consume more media online.

The second theme of the discussion focused on the longer-term challenges COVID-19 disruption poses. As we move out of the initial period of disruption we move into a new reality where the economic landscape is vastly different, and more challenging in terms of investment. Panellists discussed how the strengths of the cyber security sector can be protected and enhanced through this challenging period. Key to that will be the public-private partnership that is mature within the sector, seeing Government, academia, and industry work effectively together across a wide range of issues. Looking forward how industry can support Government as they develop the next iteration of the cyber security strategy is a key area for future work by techUK and others.

Within that future strategy as well, the issues are changing. Supporting the innovative SME community, who are perhaps most affected by the economic challenges, will be vital as the UK looks to remain a world leading cyber nation. As thousands of people are displaced from there current roles, a growing cyber sector should also look to offer new career pathways and roles to new candidates across the UK. And regionally, we might potentially see a change in the spread of the sector as home working is here to stay.


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