In the Budget, the Chancellor pledged an extra £1bn to boost U.K. defences, including cybersecurity. But will we see an impact on the safety of public sector’s cyber attacks in 2019?
Are we truly safe from a repeat WannaCry-style attack? Skybox Security director Peter Batchelor gives us his 2019 predictions.
Consolidation of technology platforms
Until now, the government has invested a great deal of money on individual technology vendors as a means of improving cybersecurity. In turn, all these vendors and their newly deployed technology are swamping existing — and scarce — resources with the sheer amount of security data they produce. Consequently, pressure will grow for tools that can link together these disparate data outputs to give IT teams a simpler view of their infrastructure, risk and where to prioritise their resources.
Projects on pause
At the same time, additional funding for central government departments to manage their cyber security issues will create an influx of new technology being purchased. But there will be a slowdown in technology purchases in late 2019 and 2020 as many of the new projects simply go on pause as departments realise they do not have the necessary resources for deployment.
NHS centralises the purchase of security tools
NHS-Digital are investing a large amount of their 2019 budget on enterprise license purchases to standardise web filtering gateways, firewalls and vulnerability management tools. The first example of this was the universal agreement with Microsoft for their Advanced Protection Tool. This will cause friction between existing vendors that will begin to lose significant revenue from their regional NHS contracts and NHS-Digital.
As NHS-Digital goes about trying to move regional NHS organisations from their existing infrastructure, there will be a pitch battle as the existing supplier’s fight for their share of NHS revenue. This will surely lead to the project and budget investment from NHS-Digital missing what it originally set out to achieve: to obtain a comprehensive view of regional NHS assets and internet activity.
Seeking a skills solution
No matter how much money the public sector has available to cope with the burgeoning number of cyber attacks they are facing, they just don’t have the skills to implement the required defences. While the government has made a heavy push on recruiting graduates in this area, this won’t have a huge impact for a couple of years. Younger graduates can be relatively unskilled when they enter the world of work and won’t be quick enough to react in order to effectively prioritise risk.
Therefore, a greater emphasis will be placed on upskilling people within the organisation — and relying heavily on automation to bridge the gap where human resources fall short.
Attacks from nation states
It’s inevitable that foreign threat actors will attempt to compromise the U.K. government’s IT networks. This will not necessarily bring an entire system down but could amount to stealing confidential information, gaining intelligence of system operability and disrupting the government and its services. Somewhere in our fragile system, we will see an attack which affects a public service in some way.
Brexit drives a mobile working environment
Brexit will lead to the increase in the number of U.K. central government employees as the government bolsters the workforce to cope with the additional demands of leaving the E.U. As the government tries to scale their systems to allow staff quick and secure access to resources, they will need to move more and more applications into their private cloud environments, allowing staff to access applications outside of their usual place of work. This will need a significant amount of effort to provide new identity access management solution and clean up endless users that still exist on the IT systems but not on the payroll.