What is to blame for lagging UK cyber exports growth?
Britain’s National Cyber Security Programme is failing to deliver promised economic benefits for UK businesses, according to a watchdog.
The £860m scheme has not done enough to encourage trade and exports in cyber security products, said the National Audit Office (NAO).
It pointed out that despite a 22% rise in UK cyber security product exports in 2012/13, the Government has only just agreed a methodology to measure progress towards hitting a £2bn export target announced at the end of 2013.
The report read: "Progress in encouraging trade and exports in cyber products and services has been slow and is the area of poorest performance, scoring the lowest rating in our survey."
The NAO blamed this in part on the Cabinet Office’s UK Trade and Investment marketing strategy suffering a 14-month delay, not being published until May 2013.
It added: "There is a question over what counts as UK income from cyber exports. The nature of cyber products means that it is often possible for operations in the UK with intellectual property developed by UK employees to be owned by a foreign company.
"The ultimate destination for this income being generated by UK intellectual property may therefore not be the UK economy. All of these factors make accurate measurement of the target difficult."
The report also found that demand for cyber skills "remains considerable" despite education and training initiatives, and success in encouraging larger firms to mitigate cyber risks must be balanced with a "limited impact" on the attitudes of SMBs.
But overall it said the programme has made good progress in improving understanding of the biggest cyber threats.
"The government continues to make good progress in implementing the programme, which is helping to build capability, mitigate risk and change attitudes, as well as taking advantage of opportunities for economic growth," the report read.
"But cyber threats continue to evolve and the government must increase the pace of change in some areas to meet its objectives."