The main body representing the UK’s financial services sector has become the latest group to call for stronger collaboration between government and industry to counter the growing cybersecurity threat. The latest call comes from UK Finance, which represents over 300 banks, credit providers, payment services firms and other financial organisations.

In a joint report with the consultancy KPMG, UK Finance says that although Britain’s financial services firms are spending more than ever on countering digital crime, cash on its own is not enough to protect against the rising threat. The report, Staying Ahead of Cybercrime, reveals that the financial services sector spends three times as much on IT Security as other sectors, but highlights that without closer co-operation between government, law enforcement and businesses protection measures will not keep up with the evolving threat.

The report reveals that online crime, including blackmail, fraud, and extortion has a financial impact of over $450 billion a year. For David Ferbrache, KPMG UK’s CTO, however, defeating cyberattacks is about more than just financial costs. “Cybercrime is costing UK institutions billions, but more importantly it erodes trust and leaves customers vulnerable,” he said.

The report expresses particular concern at the way that hackers seem to be learning how to navigate the inner workings of financial and government systems, ad working out new ways to exploit them. It is this arms race that leads it to call for a community-based response to the issue. “Cybercrime has the potential to seriously damage our economy and broader society, so to get one step ahead, the finance industry must revise its approach to cyber security. It’s not just about straight forward governance or risk and control issues,” says Stephen Jones, CEO of UK Finance. “Strategic collaboration is needed through close integration with external agencies including the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), National Crime Agency and police forces, to build a robust intelligence sharing model, in order to be more effective about tackling the ever-increasing cybercrime threat”.

The report echoes a call from the NCSC, the anti-cybercrime arm of intelligence agency GCHQ, which has previously called for just such a collaboration, warning that the cyber-threat to the UK is bigger than ever.  Ciaran Martin, NCSC’s chief executive repeated his warnings in an article on the organisation’s website yesterday, but also sounded a hopeful note: “we have the partnerships at home and abroad to secure our digital future and we need a national-level effort from all parts of our community to make those defences as effective as they can be,” he wrote.

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