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3 May 2019updated 08 Sep 2021 3:25pm

Partnerships for a safer connected world

The managing director of BT Security explains how collaboration is key to protecting the digital society.

By Kevin Brown

Cyber security underpins the digital economy. Effective, robust and unobtrusive cyber defences are essential to the United Kingdom’s digital future. The digital economy promises greater prosperity and opportunity for all, but we can only realise the benefits if we have confidence in the security of the connected world. Building those defences requires partnership and collaboration between us all.

This is not fresh ground for BT. We’ve been securing information, data and communications for more than 70 years. Millions of customers – individuals, households, businesses, governments – trust us to protect their data. Our global network reaches 180 countries and carries one terabyte of data every second, so we see (and can influence) what’s happening worldwide. Through our relationships with agencies such as Interpol, Europol and the National Cyber Security Centre, BT is often one of the first to correlate events and know of new attacks, as they happen.

Evolving criminal landscapes
Security teams can be overwhelmed by the volume of data picked up by a raft of monitoring tools. Advances in automation, analytics, AI and machine learning are helping us to anticipate and avert potential threats. Every month these tools help us automatically block 135m connections to malware sites. And machine learning techniques recently helped BT cyber security investigators identify criminals behind a major ransomware attack on financial institutions in the United States.

Investment and skills policy
Technology is only part of the solution. We must tackle the global cyber skills gap and fill the pipeline of cyber security professionals. With 3,000 specialists BT has one of the largest cyber security practices in the world. Over the next five years we’re increasing this head count by 25 per cent through apprenticeships, graduate programmes and re-skilling existing employees. We’re also partnering with schools and academia to attract a diversity of candidates to a career in cyber defence.

International collaboration
No nation state, no single organisation can tackle this issue on their own. Only by working together can we collectively succeed in stemming the tide and build cyber resilience. That’s why, as part of the NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence initiative, BT launched the Malware Information Sharing Platform, where UK internet service providers can share details of domains and websites associated with malicious software.
This information is also shared with the NCSC and law enforcement organisations. We can’t expect to eradicate online crime entirely, but innovation and partnering can help us manage the risks and build trust.

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Leading from the front
 The UK has what it takes to lead the world in cyber security. Successive governments have shown real commitment to – and investment in – developing our cyber defences. Working together, government, education and the technology sector can deliver the people, skills and innovation we need to make the UK the most secure place for citizens to live and businesses to thrive in the digital age.