McAfee and other tech firms criticise government’s lack of anti-hacker funding.
Cyber criminals could derail the government’s business-boosting budget, claimed McAfee after Chancellor George Osborne revealed a raft of measures to help small and large firms today.
The government hopes to boost British exports by doubling lending to £3bn and cutting interest rates on that money by a third – two of several initiatives announced by Osborne at the House of Commons today.
But tech sector firms derided the lack of funding to boost businesses’ defence against cyber criminals, while IT security firm McAfee said it is vital the government takes responsibility for keeping the supply chain safe from new emerging threats including hackers, warning they could cause "detrimental" damage.
"The true test will be how the supply chain holds up to a rising array of threats," said Graeme Steward, director of McAfee’s public sector strategy for the UK and Ireland.
"Cyber criminals are increasingly using the supply chain to gain access to the top players in the chain, while simple employee mistakes can unwittingly wreak havoc."
He added: "Consequences of an attack could be detrimental, potentially resulting in outages of entire production lines.
"The scale is such that any educational initiatives must be carried out via existing channels into enterprises and SMBs alike."
Hackers have attacked supply chains to steal key information through methods such as loading computers with data-stealing malware and targeting the vulnerabilities in an enterprise’s network.
Another method – loading counterfeit software containing malware onto an enterprise computer – is expected to cost enterprises $491bn in 2014, according to a joint study by IDC and the National University of Singapore.
While Osborne announced the £42m reopening of the Turing Institute, named after wartime codebreaker Alan Turing, to make Britain a hub for big data research, information security firm NCC Group slammed the government’s lack of cyber security measures.
CEO Rob Cotton said: "We know that the government has been raising awareness of the issue and it has outlined a number of projects to help combat cyber crime, but this isn’t enough.
"If we are going to win this war, then real businesses must be encouraged and supported in implementing their own defences. I’d like to see real financial support to help businesses protect themselves."
SAP added that the announcements were "promising", though called for more incentives for businesses to invest or expand overseas.
Conor Shaw, VP of the German firm’s partner ecosystem, said businesses must seek to become more efficient by innovating.
"Through implementation of new technologies and shifting the IT department from one that is operational to that of a strategic partner to the business, SMBs will be better placed to think bigger and grow faster," he said.
Downing Street doubled the Annual Investment Allowance to £500,000 from next month until the end of 2015, meaning businesses can spend more on plant and machinery equipment.
But this year’s budget was also rued as a missed opportunity to encourage more investment into businesses.
Banks that deny SMBs loans are now required to refer them to alternative sources of cash, but lender Azule Finance fears there is nothing to compel banks to commit to higher SMB investment of their own.
MD Peter Savage said: "There’s absolutely nothing in this budget that makes me confident that British banks will boost lending for smaller businesses over the coming year.
"The top five banks already go out of their way to hold back finance from cash-strapped SMEs that desperately need to get their business or project off the ground."
Matt Deevey, MD of Manchester-based cloud office solutions startup, Cloudsmart, added: "This year’s budget hasn’t gone far enough to encourage business investment in tech-based SMBs.
"Small business owners in the tech sector are struggling to maintain the financial resources necessary to capitalise on market opportunities and overcome hurdles created by government regulations.
"Now that growth is on the horizon, we’d like to see the government do more to collaborate with SMBs in the technology sector."