By Marcus Leach
Francis Maude, the Governments newly appointed Minister for Cyber Security, has urged business leaders to help protect the economic well being of the country by investing in measures to empower safe travel through cyberspace.
In his first speech since taking over the Cyber portfolio from Baroness Neville-Jones, Mr Maude told a conference in London that the development of computers and the internet is similar to what the development of cars and the road network did in the 20th Century offering “the freedom to explore, investigate and widen horizons” and “transforming everything about our society overwhelmingly for the better”.
"The Government’s National Cyber Security Programme will ensure that we all benefit from a safe, secure and resilient cyberspace," Mr Maude said, speaking to delegates at the conference.
As Minister for the Cabinet Office, Mr Maude is principally responsible for the Government’s public sector efficiency and reform agendas, a key part of which is the drive towards Government transparency.
He told the conference that his new responsibilities for cyber are a good fit with his existing portfolio and added “computing and the internet are absolutely fundamental in the drive towards Government transparency and opening up of every sort of government-held information to public scrutiny and commercial enterprise”.
Mr Maude cited the work to put the public services of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) online as a great start to placing Government services online and said that Identity Assurance is a measure the Government will be championing “we must go wider and deeper at the same time as assuring people that we are not delivering a Big Brother state”.
"Technology on its own is not enough; it needs to be underpinned by genuine confidence in its use. Confidence that it will work, confidence that bit is resilient and confidence that it is secure. Furthermore this confidence has to be shared equally by the providers of these services - the Government - and the consumers of these services — industry and the general public," he added.
He said that ensuring we all benefit from a safe, secure and resilient cyberspace would mean underpinning confidence that the UK is a safe place to do business in cyberspace. That means engaging and collaborating with the public, with industry and with other countries. He cited the recent cyber communiqué at the end of last weeks meeting between the Prime Minister and President Obama and discussions at the subsequent G8 meeting as examples of this important international cooperation.
The Government’s National Cyber Security programme is now live and will involve delivery of a £650 million programme over the next four years designed to “tackle cyber crime and industrial espionage as well as threats to national security”.