CWC 2023News

Rapid Surge in Public Sector Cybersecurity Contracts During the Pandemic

In a recent analysis of government procurement records, Acumin, a leading cybersecurity recruitment agency, has uncovered a significant increase in the number of cyber-related contracts awarded by public bodies since the start of the pandemic. The data obtained from the government’s Contracts Finder online database reveals a remarkable upward trend in the engagement of cybersecurity services.In 2019, there were 118 commercial agreements with the term ‘cyber’ mentioned in the contract title or service description. This marked a notable increase of 30 contracts compared to the previous year and nearly double the number recorded in 2017. Surprisingly, despite the onset of the coronavirus crisis, the numbers continued to surge in 2020, with 167 cyber-related agreements signed. The trend accelerated further in 2021 and 2022, reaching 253 and 248 contracts, respectively—more than double the pre-pandemic figures.PublicTechnology, a leading technology news platform, is drawing attention to this surge in cyber contracts as it approaches its annual Cyber Security Conference, scheduled for 4 July in London. The conference will provide attendees with exclusive insights from senior security leaders representing esteemed organizations such as the Ministry of Justice, Cabinet Office, the National Crime Agency, and Transport for Greater Manchester.Several notable contracts were signed in 2022, including agreements by the Ministry of Defence, focusing on cyber awareness, behavior, and culture across the defense sector. Valued at approximately £1.5 million each, these contracts aim to enhance cyber hygiene and increase awareness among defense and military personnel. Furthermore, the Department of Health and Social Care secured a six-figure deal to access “cyber threat intelligence,” which is crucial for safeguarding the rollout of the UK’s coronavirus vaccine.The increasing demand for security skills has prompted the Cabinet Office to establish partnerships with commercial providers to offer “surge capacity” support to its internal cyber team. This demonstrates the ever-growing nature of the need for cybersecurity expertise within the public sector.The Cabinet Office is also home to the Government Security Red Team, responsible for testing departmental defenses through exercises like penetration testing, simulating potential threats.Incident response support remains a priority, as indicated by the number of public bodies that have engaged firms for this purpose. Various entities, including the Ministry of Justice, Department for Education, Information Commissioner’s Office, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and local authorities in areas such as Sunderland, Doncaster, and Essex, have struck preparatory deals.The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) played a significant role in early 2022 by becoming one of the first departments to undergo independent cyber-resilience audits known as GovAssure. This initiative, introduced in the Government Cyber Security Strategy and launched in April, mandates annual external assessments of cyber posture for all Whitehall departments and selected arm’s-length bodies.The heightened need for robust cybersecurity measures continues to drive public bodies to seek specialized support, highlighting the importance of ongoing vigilance and strategic partnerships within the industry.

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