New figures cited by the UK government claim the country’s cybersecurity sector has achieved double-digit growth over the past two years, but Brexit threatens to undo much of the good work by making cross-border recruitment and sales harder.
Based on research from Queen’s University Belfast, the sector is now worth £8.3bn, with revenues from UK firms having increased 46% from 2017-19. The number of cybersecurity firms located in the UK also grew significantly over the period, by 44% from 846 in 2017 to over 1200 at year-end 2019.
In addition, investment into the industry was a record £348m last year, and topped £1.1bn over the past four years, the paper claimed.
The university argued that government-backed initiatives like HutZero, Cyber101 and the London Office for Rapid Cyber Security Investment (LORCA) have played a key role in helping start-ups and SMEs develop new products and services.
Andy Harcup, VP EMEA at Absolute Software, welcomed the news, arguing that it’s a reflection of the growing market demand for products designed to mitigate cyber-risk.
“However, whilst it’s great to see that cybersecurity has grown in priority on the corporate agenda as companies are spending more than ever on security, it must be mentioned that the threat landscape is developing even faster,” he added.
“Therefore, we must witness continued dedicated commitment from all organizations to tackle this problem head on. This involves the use or introduction of security tools that not only mitigate risk, but help the organization to respond, recover and actually fix the things that are breaking.”
The news comes as the UK officially leaves the European Union at midnight tonight. Experts and IT security professionals have warned that Brexit could have a “chilling” effect on the country’s nascent cybersecurity industry, by making cross-border intelligence sharing harder, and impacting jobs.
The world is already experiencing a cybersecurity skills shortage in excess of four million positions, with shortfalls in Europe having soared by over 100% from 2018-19.
It is predicted that Brexit will discourage many skilled job-seekers from coming to the UK, while the pipeline from UK universities remains weak.
Over 90% of UK IT professionals told RedSeal last year they believe Brexit will make chronic industry skills shortages even worse.
There are also question marks over UK sales to the continent. Boris Johnson’s government has refused to consider remaining in the single market, meaning likely trade restrictions that will hinder firms’ growth prospects.