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Is it time we raised expectations of politicians on cyber security?

Given the public perception that politicians are a bit clueless on tech/security issues, UK-based cyber security/ethical hacking firm Redscan decided to poll all 650 UK MPs to understand their thoughts on the cyber security threats facing UK businesses.

When it comes to the issue of cyber security, recent history doesn’t reflect too kindly on politicians. Last November, the Japanese minister of cyber security made headlines for admitting to never having used a computer, while in 2017, Donald Trump claims to have discussed ‘forming an impenetrable cyber security unit’ with Vladimir Putin of all people. Closer to home, Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary, admitted to falling victim to a phishing campaign in which hackers could’ve gained control of her PC and accessed all its contents.

The truth is that politicians don’t have a reputation for being particularly security-savvy. This is something we have largely come to accept today, but should we? After all, it would be outrageous for a transport minister to say they didn’t understand the highway code, or if the foreign secretary couldn’t locate Canada on the world map.

While we should not expect politicians to be cyber experts, their decisions influence our digital safety, privacy, and online freedoms. As such, we should expect MPs to have at least a core understanding of cyber security issues, just as they should know about any matter that affects their constituencies, be it healthcare, education or law enforcement. As we digitise more of the critical services that underpin our society, such as transport, energy, and possibly even our election process, cyber security will become even more entwined in politics.

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