The UK is not winning the fight on cyber-security, despite pouring some £860 million into its defences in the past five years, according to a top director at UK spy agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
Alex Dewdney, director of cybersecurity at CESG which is the information security arm of GCHQ, said that while it now understands the threats much better, it is still struggling to bring cyber-security threats under control.
Speaking at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, he said: "I think the best way to sum up the challenge we face is that while we've done a lot over the past five years and spent quite a lot of money as a Government, particularly in those years of austerity we've been through, the bottom line is it hasn't worked."
To put the challenge faced by the GCHQ into perspective, Chancellor George Osborne recently told how the agency was now actively monitoring "cyber threats from high-end adversaries" against 450 companies across the UK – with a number of those companies said to be in the telecoms sector.
Dewdney explained that it can't just pass information on threats to businesses and "tell them to go and deal with it themselves", before throwing cold water on the belief in the UK that the solution to all its problems is information sharing and partnerships.
"[People believe that] if we keep doing that, then somehow it will magically cause improvement to happen. That approach by itself is not sufficient," he said.
Osborne hopes that doubling the cyber security funding to £1.9 billion by 2020 will allow the GCHQ to be more effective in its work, but Dewdney says it "not so much a money issue as it is a human resources issue".