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UK ‘more vulnerable than ever before’ to cyber attacks

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The UK is "more vulnerable than ever before" to cyber attacks and is making weak progress on its National Cyber Security Strategy, according to a new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

PAC, which oversees government expenditure, said there was a “weak” business case for the National Cyber Security Strategy, which has a series of objectives that are intended to be fulfilled by 2021.

“Digital technology and online services are fast-moving areas and constantly evolving and we are concerned that consumers do not know how safe the websites or internet-enabled products they use are,” the PAC said in its report.

“There is clearly more that the government needs to do to make progress in this area.”

It noted that the National Cyber Security Centre has dealt with more than 1,100 incidents since it was established in October 2016.

PAC chairwoman Meg Hillier said: “With its world-leading digital economy, the UK is more vulnerable than ever before to cyber attacks.

“As the likelihood of these attacks continues to grow, the UK needs to protect itself against the risks created by more and more services going online.”

It also warned that the boundaries between state-orchestrated attacks and those of cyber criminals is increasingly blurred.

The Cabinet Office is beginning to make progress in meeting the strategic outcomes of the current strategy “after a poor start”, according to the PAC’s report.

It added: “However, a weak evidence base and the lack of a business case for the National Cyber Security Programme that helps to deliver the strategy make it difficult for the department to assess whether it will meet all its objectives by 2021.”

Hillier said: “In the interest of national security, the Cabinet Office needs to take a long-term approach to protecting against the risk of cyber attacks. Future plans should be based on strong evidence, business cases should be rigorously costed to ensure value for money and strategic outcomes and objectives should be clearly defined.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The UK is safer since the launch of our cyber strategy in 2015.

“We have set up the world leading National Cyber Security Centre, taken down 140,000 scam websites in the last year, and across government have helped over a million organisations become more secure.”

In March 2019, the Government said that many board directors of the UK’s top firms admit to not having full understanding of the impact of loss or disruption associated with cyber threats, despite having a cyber-security strategy in place.

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