U.K. marketHomeland security: U.K. perspective // by Terry Shear, MBE

Published 26 March 2008

The United Kingdom is a preferred market for security companies: It has a global financial center in the City of London, years of experience in dealing with terrorism threats to its infrastructure, and has therefore reacted and developed accordingly with sophistication and expertise in the sector

The four major threats facing the world today are crime, terror, environmental stress, and global poverty. Science and research have, and will continue to have, significant potential for understanding the causes of these threats and providing possible interventions to reduce risks and prevent harm. Criminals, for example, are exploiting the opportunities presented by increasingly open global markets, so there is a need to know more about the evolution of global crime and to tackle such crime.

The U.K. government recognize these challenges and has announced the publication of the first National Security Strategy for the United Kingdom. The strategy highlights the nature of the new security challenges, how they have changed, and how the United Kingdom are responding. The strategy sets out how we have learned the lessons of recent years, including experiences of terrorism and civil emergencies, not just in the United Kingdom but also overseas (see the National Security Strategy document here).

The nature of the security threat is changing, with activity is becoming more criminalized in nature. Also, the threat from within businesses is increasing. A study by Gartner found that 70 percent of unauthorized access to information systems was carried out by “insiders” and that 95 percent of attacks resulting in serious financial losses were instigated by employees. As a result, businesses are spending more on identity and access management technologies. These monitor signed-in authentication and control access levels, enabling a logged audit trail. Estimated at £32 million (US$61 million) and growing, the U.K. identity management market is projected to touch £115 million (US$226 million) by 2010, representing compound growth (CAGR) of more than 20 percent a year.

The U.K.’s planned introduction of national identity cards, containing biometric information such as face, iris, and fingerprint recognition, is expected to provide a huge boost to the British biometric industry — analysts believe it is the potential breakthrough that could open biometric technology to widespread commercial use in the United Kingdom. The ID card alone is likely to be worth more than £2.6 billion (US$5.4billion) in total, according to Consult Hyperion, the consultancy that advised the Hong Kong Government on its ID card strategy.

The United Kingdom is a preferred market for security companies because it has a global financial center in the City of London, both driving and demanding world class security products; it has years of experience in dealing with terrorism threats to