What Is the Role of Government in Cybersecurity?

Piers Kelly

The government has a crucial role to play in cybersecurity. If they can’t provide secure and trusted digital connectivity, societies can’t prosper and economies won’t grow.

government's role in cybersecurity

Therefore, it’s crucial to develop national cybersecurity defence strategies to combat the cybersecurity risks that both citizens and businesses face.

This article will provide a critical assessment of the role of the government in tackling and implementing cybersecurity policy in the UK.

The Current Cybersecurity Landscape in the UK

The pandemic forced many organisations to work remotely in 2021. This created new opportunities for cyber threats, with ransomware crimes seeing a sharp increase.

Phishing attacks are on the rise, too. Threat actors capitalised on the pandemic and other current affairs using phishing emails and texts to lure people in.

We also face a range of threats from terrorism, espionage and hostile foreign states in the cybersecurity landscape.

Rises in these types of crime pose a problem for the Government. They must implement effective strategies to combat risks and maintain a certain level of citizen confidence.

However, the Government is currently facing a range of challenges in managing the cybersecurity landscape.

A Breakdown of Cybersecurity Challenges We're Facing

The different cybersecurity challenges faced by the Government vary on both a national and international scale.

Local government cybersecurity challenges are broad across the UK. Some attacks disrupt services, while others concentrate on stealing data, blackmail and other serious criminal offences.

Earlier in 2021, the London Borough of Hackney was subject to a ransomware attack where personal staff data was released and local authority payments halted.

Although the recovery was difficult, the council has since implemented new cybersecurity measures and a strategy to ensure these crimes don’t occur again in the future.

Redcar and Cleveland local authorities were attacked in 2020. It’s estimated to have cost in the region of £10 million due to the loss of services.

This resulted in the council upgrading its system across many sites and focusing more heavily on its cybersecurity strategy to combat more crimes taking place in the future.

The UK is facing international cybersecurity challenges, too. Geopolitical tension has continued to rise and there have been difficulties in strengthening cooperation and understanding of the subject matter.

There has also been an urge to tighten digital ad rules and other areas of digital to stop foreign election meddling.

In a  report on election finance, the Committee on Standards in Public Life called for "more proportionate and transparent rules" to better track overseas influence and allow Britain's "highly complex" laws to keep pace with digital campaigning.

It all starts with a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy to tackle these issues, but what does one of these include?

How to Build a Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Strategy 

There’s a range of elements that contribute to a successful national cybersecurity strategy. These include:

Working With a Dedicated National Cybersecurity Agency

A national cybersecurity agency is hired by a government to define and drive the cybersecurity agenda of the entire country.  This involves developing a cohesive national cybersecurity strategy with a portfolio of initiatives.

These initiatives aim to protect critical infrastructure, mobilise response to crimes and define cybersecurity standards to offer maximum protection across all government entities.

Build a National Critical Infrastructure Protection Programme

Critical infrastructure is typically the most attractive target for cybercrime criminals. This is because it’ll usually have the most significant impact on the economy, society and overall national security should something happen.

To avoid critical infrastructure threats taking place, it’s essential to have a protection programme in place. This includes working with each vital sector to understand their threats and the necessary security needed to protect them.

Create a National Incident Response Plan

Every government needs to develop a national incident response and recovery plan to mitigate the effects of cyber incidents and improve recovery time.

For example, when Hackney Borough came under threat in 2020, they needed guidance and reassurance to get them out of this situation. That’s where a national incident response plan can make a real difference.

Define Laws Connected to Cybercrimes

It’s essential to decide which aspects of cybersecurity need to be legislated and which factors may not include any legal penalties. This can be done by defining laws connected to cybercrimes and regularly staying up to date with trends.

The nature of cybercrime means new types of criminal activities occur all the time. Governments need to be reactive — and that’s where a dedicated national cybersecurity agency can make a real difference.

Learn More About Cybercrime and What the Future Looks Like for the Government

The  Cyber Security & Data Protection Summit will bring together Cybersecurity, Data Protection, Technology and Business leaders across the Government to pave the way for the future. You can book your spot here.