The Cabinet Office spaffed almost £300,000 on cybersecurity-related training for its staff in the last year – an eye-popping increase of almost 500 per cent on the year before.
This is according to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by political think tank Parliament Street, which found the Cabinet Office lavished £274,142.85 on cybersecurity training for staff in the 2020/21 financial year, with courses including "The Art of Hacking", "Digital Forensics Fundamentals", and "Ethical Hacking."
Compared to the £47,018 forked out on similar courses in the previous year, that’s a whopping 483 per cent increase in spending.
The most popular course by far – which received 332 bookings – was for an introductory course on how to prevent, detect and respond to cyber-attacks.
The next most popular course was for a Foundation Certificate in Cybersecurity, attended by just 33 peeps.
In all, staff at the Cabinet Office took part in 428 separate cyber-training courses last year, compared to just 35 courses in the 12 months before.
It’s not clear at this stage what may have prompted this spike in interest at the Cabinet Office, which is run by Michael Gove MP and is responsible for supporting the prime minister.
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Perhaps officials were responding to a parliamentary report in November 2018, which warned that the UK remains woefully unprepared for a cyber-attack.
At the time, the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy berated the government for its slapdash approach to IT security, claiming that officials were "not acting with the urgency and forcefulness that the situation demands."
Fast-forward to today and barely a day goes by without someone doing the cyber nasty.
Only last weekend, CCTV footage leaked to The Sun showed former Health Secretary Matt Hancock passionately breaching social distancing rules with his mistress in a government building. Ministers were said to have "expressed surprise at the presence of CCTV in the [Department of Health and Social Care] office" and new Health Secretary Sajid Javid told City AM it has now been disabled. The ninth-floor office in the Department of Health building is about 700 metres away from the Houses of Parliament.
No one from the Cabinet Office was available for comment at the time of writing. ®