Cybersecurity isn’t all about doom and gloom

This optimistic approach is supported by recently published market research that estimates the current size of the cybersecurity sector in the United Kingdom to be around £2.8 billion and set to grow to £3.4 billion by 2017. And it is the small and medium sized businesses within this sector that are predicted to grow the most.

Security in the smart city
What all this means is that there is money to be made from cybersecurity and small businesses should not fear it but embrace it. One area that is promising in this sense is the move towards smart cities. As the infrastructure around us, such as traffic lights and utilities becomes more regularly controlled via computers, market opportunities emerge.

A recent government report highlighted the need for next generation ICT structures for energy, water, transport, waste and assisted living. What it does not cover is how we are going to protect this and who will do it.

The report does mention that companies providing smart cities products and services do need to adhere to data privacy and security best practice. And that companies should ensure appropriate safety standards. But skills, products and expertise need to be procured in order to make this happen. Where are the businesses that can supply this?

They are around, but many of them just don’t realize they can respond to this need. Imagine your company makes electricity meters. In order to make them smart you need to embed hardware and software in order that the home owner can monitor their usage. The result of this is that the smart-meter can now be attacked digitally. If you were a procurement company, would you buy the meter that was enhanced with digital protection or the one that wasn’t?

Out of necessity, your electricity meter company produces a system to protect its products from being attacked. Now it becomes a company that has the capability to digitally secure smart meters. Could that capability be wrapped up into a new product or service to sell to other smart-meter manufacturers? This is how the pessimism of cyber-fear becomes a money-making opportunity.

In order to fully realize the potential of this opportunity requires broad discussions by a wide variety of stakeholders, from government, the police service, academia and the business community. Academia also provides the open public space to explore the opportunities and show how all the key stakeholders may work together.

The business opportunities are boundless in cybersecurity. New markets such as smart cities are emerging all the time as we, as a society, find new ways to use technology. What we need are entrepreneurial people to see past the doom and gloom to provide the products and services we need to protect our future digital life.

Daniel Prince Associate Director Security Lancaster at Lancaster University.This story is published courtesy of The Conversation (under Creative Commons-Attribution/No derivatives).