The UK Government will help build cyber security startups to support the sector’s growth, its cyber security ambassador said yesterday.

“A key additional element to our new strategy is to further support the growth of the UK’s cyber sector. We are developing mutually supportive interventions to help move ideas into products, products into startups, startups into successful UK companies, and successful UK companies into world class enterprises”, said Conrad Prince, UK Cyber Security Ambassador in the Defence and Security Organisation, at the Singapore International Cyber Week.

The move is part of the country’s new cyber security strategy to be set up next month. “The new UK National Cyber Security Strategy will be supported by £1.9 billion (US$2.3 billion),” he said.

The investment will be made over five years, bringing the government’s total cybersecurity spending to £3.2 billion (US$3.9 billion).

The Government will also partner with the private sector to strengthen the security of national systems and networks. “The UK Government will work with industry, especially communication service providers to make it significantly harder to attack UK internet services and users”, he added.

“In the UK, as elsewhere, we have a major shortage of cyber skills,” Prince said. The country is using virtual platforms to build up cyber security skills.

The Cyber Security Challenge UK partnered the government and the private sector to launch a “virtual skyscraper” last September for people to train their digital defence skills.

Users enter the virtual building, meet up with other candidates and engage with potential employers. The platform emulates a 3D game, and players’ scores are entered on leader boards for skills, like risk analysis, forensic analysis, network defence and ethics.

“A Singapore floor will be introduced in the virtual skyscraper for the first time later this year, so players [from Singapore] will qualify to join in masterclass in 2017, to pit their skills alongside UK players”, Prince said.

The government also wants to identify cyber security talent earlier in the education process, he added. UK is “looking for 14 to 18 year olds who have a particular aptitude to cybersecurity”, he said. The country will “provide additional opportunities for them to learn, experiment, be mentored and help them through into an employment pipeline”.

Correction: Due to a transcription error, this article initially said that the British Government is using military-supported intelligence to build startups. We apologise for the error.

Image by Marcin Cajzer, licensed under CC BY 2.0