11 September 2014
The UK government’s National Cyber Security Programme is making good progress according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).
The report finds that good progress has been made by the government in improving its understanding of the most sophisticated threats to national security. However, the level of understanding of threats to wider public services is varied.
The Programme’s objectives include tackling cyber crime and making the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business.
While exports in UK cyber products and services have increased by 22% between 2012 and 2013, progress in encouraging trade and exports has been slow, and, according to the NAO’s survey of stakeholders, this is the objective against which the government currently has the poorest performance.
Some progress has been made in encouraging businesses and citizens to mitigate risks, particularly in getting larger companies to take action. The Government has, however, had a limited impact in targeting SMEs, where it has struggled to communicate guidance in a way that meets their needs.
The Programme’s financial management and governance mechanisms are strong, and the Government is on track to spend the Programme’s budget of £860 million by March 2016.
Overall, the NAO found that government continues to make good progress in implementing the Programme, which is helping to build capability, mitigate risk and change attitudes. Cyber threats, however, continue to evolve and government must increase the pace of change in some areas to meet its objectives.
In February 2013, the NAO published a landscape review of cyber security, and described what different parts of government were doing to implement the Cyber Security Strategy and identified the challenges they faced in doing so.
Using the NAO’s review, the Committee of Public Accounts held a hearing on 13 March 2013 on the subject of cyber security and took evidence from Cabinet Office officials.After the hearing, the Committee's Chair wrote to the Cabinet Office. The Chair noted five key challenges for government and asked the NAO to give an update on the Programme after the Government's next planned review. This report is the NAO’s response.