UK Spending Cuts Impact Information Security

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peter Abatan


Since the last election the current UK coalition government has outlined plans to cut £6.2bn, most of what the new government calls “wasteful spending” to start to reduce the budget deficit.

The government plans to cut £95m from its IT spending as part of its effort to save £6.24bn in its first round of cuts. Many within IT circles are concerned that this makes government both at the central level and local levels more vulnerable than ever before to all sorts of computer and data security attacks.

The unfortunate situation for UK government is that IT security is not at the core of its operations, unlike the US that is investing more in information and cyber security. Most of what it does more reactive, than proactive.

Looking at the recent budget there has been no commitment to cyber and data security. Expect data breach incidents like what happened at East Devon District Council to be on the rise during the life of the current parliament.

The endpoint security tools like Enterprise Rights Management and Data Leakage Prevention are still have a very low uptake in government at both central and local government levels, this means why it may have taken the necessary steps to protect its structured data, the possibility of data breaches in unstructured data remains very high.

There is even a greater threat from civil servants who are in danger of loosing their jobs, they know the kink in the armour when it comes to IT security. Some of them might have started to take data home knowing that their jobs may not be there tomorrow.

The final departmental breakdown of cuts will be announced in the spending review on October 20.

Tony Dyhouse, cyber security programme director for the government-funded Digital Systems Knowledge Transfer Network (DSKTN), said to  ZDNet while there was a risk that austerity measures could siphon money away from information security, the Budget could also stimulate innovation.

“Against a background of austerity, there will be more demand for cost-effective, innovative solutions, and hopefully academics and policy makers will work more closely with business to develop these,” said Dyhouse. “This could stimulate both economic growth and improvements in the area.”

While what Dyhouse believes may be true to some extent, it may be too late for some government bodies to benefit from any innovation if they currently do not have the proper tools to secure confidential information in their care.

Central government needs to ensure that amidst all these public spending cuts it takes both cyber security and information security very serious. There are no alternatives here, government cannot afford to cut spending in the area of information and cyber security.

This article was cross posted from the Enterprise Rights Management blog

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