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The UK Government has announced the creation of a £500,000 fund that it hopes will improve IT security education and skills.

Earlier this week, Ed Vaizey, UK minister of the digital economy, highlighted the importance of IT security skills to a digital economy at the Financial Times Cyber Security Europe Summit.

“Good cyber security underpins the entire digital economy – we need it to keep our businesses, citizens and public services safe. The UK is a world leader in the use of digital technologies but we also need to be a world leader in cyber security,” he said, as quoted by V3.co.uk. “Trust and confidence in UK online security is crucial for consumers, businesses and investors. We want to make the UK the safest place in the world to do business online.”

PwC’s annual Information Security Breaches Survey has revealed that approximately 90 percent of large businesses and 74 percent of small- to mid-sized organizations experienced a breach in the past year.

In response to these and other findings, the UK Government has set up a new £500,000 fund that will be administered by the Higher Education Academy. The fund allows academic institutions to apply for up to £80,000, which must be match-funded by the institution and must generate real-world impact across the discipline. These grants will, in turn, provide UK students in the field of information security with high-quality, innovative learning.

ed vaizey
Ed Vaizey (Source: Financial Times)

Additionally, Vaizey during his speech this week urged businesses to protect themselves online by adopting the Cyber Essentials scheme, a security standard developed by the UK Government against which organizations can be assessed and certified.

As noted by Ian Glover, president of Cyber Essentials accrediting body CREST, the scheme itself should not be thought of as an all-encompassing end goal.

“For those organizations that hold sensitive personal information or corporate information central to the business it is very likely that they need to do more to counter a concerted attack,” Glover told Infosecurity Magazine. “If an organization is part of the supply chain they must also understand their obligations and not become the weakest link in the chain and therefore the most logical to attack.”

Even so, Cyber Essentials is a step forward in the right direction.

Since its announcement in 2011, the National Cyber Security Programme, which includes the Cyber Essentials scheme, has received £860 million of government investment. More than 1,000 businesses have all ready adopted Cyber Essentials into their security strategies.