Progress and Research in Cybersecurity - Supporting a resilient and trustworthy system for the UK

Andrew Hopper, John McCanny

Research output: Other contribution


Executive summary
Digital systems have transformed, and will continue to transform, our world. Supportive government policy, a strong research base and a history of industrial success make the UK particularly well-placed to realise the benefits of the emerging digital society. These benefits have already been substantial, but they remain at risk. Protecting the benefits and minimising the risks requires reliable and robust cybersecurity, underpinned by a strong research and translation system.
Trust is essential for growing and maintaining participation in the digital society. Organisations earn trust by acting in a trustworthy manner: building systems that are reliable and secure, treating people, their privacy and their data with respect, and providing credible and comprehensible information to help people understand how secure they are.
Resilience, the ability to function, adapt, grow, learn and transform under stress or in the face of shocks, will help organisations deliver systems that are reliable and secure. Resilient organisations can better protect their customers, provide more useful products and services, and earn people’s trust.
Research and innovation in industry and academia will continue to make important contributions to creating this resilient and trusted digital environment. Research can illuminate how best to build, assess and improve digital systems, integrating insights from different disciplines, sectors and around the globe. It can also generate advances to help cybersecurity keep up with the continued evolution of cyber risks.
Translation of innovative ideas and approaches from research will create a strong supply of reliable, proven solutions to difficult to predict cybersecurity risks. This is best achieved by maximising the diversity and number of innovations that see the light of day as products.
Policy, practice and research will all need to adapt. The recommendations made in this report seek to set up a trustworthy, self-improving and resilient digital environment that can thrive in the face of unanticipated threats, and earn the trust people place in it.
Innovation and research will be particularly important to the UK’s economy as it establishes a new relationship with the EU. Cybersecurity delivers important economic benefits, both by underpinning the digital foundations of UK business and trade and also through innovation that feeds directly into growth. The findings of this report will be relevant regardless of how the UK’s relationship to the EU changes.
Headline recommendations
● Trust: Governments must commit to preserving the robustness of encryption, including end-to-end encryption, and promoting its widespread use. Encryption is a foundational security technology that is needed to build user trust, improve security standards and fully realise the benefits of digital systems.
● Resilience: Government should commission an independent review of the UK’s future cybersecurity needs, focused on the institutional structures needed to support resilient and trustworthy digital systems in the medium and longer term. A self-improving, resilient digital environment will need to be guided and governed by institutions that are transparent, expert and have a clear and widely-understood remit.
● Research: A step change in cybersecurity research and practice should be pursued; it will require a new approach to research, focused on identifying ambitious high-level goals and enabling excellent researchers to pursue those ambitions. This would build on the UK's existing strengths in many aspects of cybersecurity research and ultimately help build a resilient and trusted digital sector based on excellent research and world-class expertise.
● Translation: The UK should promote a free and unencumbered flow of cybersecurity ideas from research to practical use and support approaches that have public benefits beyond their short term financial return. The unanticipated nature of future cyber threats means that a diverse set of cybersecurity ideas and approaches will be needed to build resilience and adaptivity. Many of the most valuable ideas will have broad security benefits for the public, beyond any direct financial returns.
Original languageEnglish
TypeRoyal Society Science Policy report
Media of outputElectronic and Paper
PublisherThe Royal Society
Number of pages68
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78252-215-7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Royal Society Policy report, co-chaired by Professors Hopper and McCanny


  • Cybersecurity, research,inovation, trust, resilience, translation


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