Ahead of May’s general election, the House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills has issued a 145-page report (Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future) warning the incoming government that the UK is at “make or break point” and that it is necessary to “seize the opportunity to secure the UK’s place as a global digital leader”.
“Digital technology is pervasive across all aspects of life,” the report notes, “so much so that the ‘digital economy’ is becoming synonymous with the national economy. The UK cannot afford to miss the opportunity or shirk the challenges this presents.”
The UK could be “left behind”
The report goes on to claim that there is “a real concern that the UK will be left behind in this new digital era; we are at a tipping point. Digital businesses can locate anywhere in the world, and if we fail to provide the right conditions for them to flourish in the UK, we will become a branch economy, much less prosperous and influential than we could be.”
A major focus of the report is cyber security, and how SMEs are at particular risk from cyber security issues: “With the increase in malware and cyber-attacks, and an increased reliance on digital technology and data […] the best way to defend against cyber risks and deter attacks is to ensure we train and deploy enough people with the relevant skills and expertise.”
However, “28% of SME employers reported that a general shortage of skills was an obstacle to their business success […] If SMEs are not made up of individuals with the right talent, knowledge and basic competencies, there would be a large proportion who would “not be able to participate in the digital economy”.”
Developing a good cyber security posture needn’t be beyond the reach of most SMEs, however. As the report continues: “The Government’s Cyber Essentials scheme (part of the Cyber Streetwise campaign) is a new Government-backed and industry supported scheme to guide businesses in protecting themselves against cyber threats. The scheme provides free information, clarifying good basic cybersecurity practice and encouraging organisations to adopt the requirements appropriate to their business. It is aimed at organisations of all sizes—including SMEs—and is not just limited to the private sector.”
The Cyber Essentials scheme provides a set of five controls that organisations can implement to achieve a baseline of cyber security, and against which they can achieve certification to prove their credentials.
IT Governance offers a series of implementation solutions starting at just £300 for UK organisations looking to achieve CREST-accredited certification at a pace and for a budget suited to them.
Beyond Cyber Essentials, organisations wanting to improve their cyber security postures should consider implementing an information security management system (ISMS), as set out in the international standard ISO 27001, to ensure they have the right policies and procedures to manage their information assets.
IT Governance’s ISO 27001 Packaged Solutions make it easy for organisations to prepare for certification using a project approach appropriate for them.