Cyber industry leaders debate AI threat in Parliament

Key figures from the UK’s cyber industry gathered in the Houses of Parliament last night to discuss the challenges posed by cyber threats and the rise of A to UK national security and the economy.

Key figures from the UK’s cyber industry gathered in the Houses of Parliament last night to discuss the challenges posed by cyber threats and the rise of A to UK national security and the economy.

Speaking at the Parliament Street think tank’s Cyber summit on Tuesday night, which was hosted by Dean Russell MP for Watford and chaired by Steven George-Hilley of Centropy PR, a panel of experts, which included executives from BAE Systems and Avanade, debated the steps that should be taken to tackle the challenges posed by AI, fake reviews, ransomware and other cyber threats.

The discussion also explored how best to manage the growing role AI is playing in the digital economy, the steps that need to be taken to protect critical national infrastructure and create a more diverse cyber workforce.

Mivy James FBCS, Digital Transformation Director, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence said: “There is growing recognition that cyber security needs to be just like any other aspect of engineering quality, just as we expect planes to be airworthy we expect IT to be secure by default. This against a backdrop of changing cyber threats due to increased geopolitical uncertainty such as the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

“Inflation will challenge the case for investment in cyber security along with the insatiable demands for more data and more AI. AI itself poses a threat from using AI to generate sophisticated attacks to smarted AI searches inadvertently accessing previously hidden data that was secure through obfuscation rather than by design,” she added.

Meanwhile Paul Connaghan, Principal Consultant, RiverSafe said: “Cyber security is more important than ever with state-sponsored attacks, AI-powered threats and increased sophistication from cybercriminals. It’s not just the big businesses that are the target, cybercriminals are the targeting devices, applications and networks of staff and organisations of any size and location and without putting the proper defences in place, businesses are sleepwalking into a cyber catastrophe. At all levels, businesses need to invest in cyber security measures as a priority through culture, process and strategy in order to protect themselves from an increasing volume and complexity of threats.”

Andy Ward, Vice President & GM International, Absolute Software said: “The tidal wave of AI adoption will inevitably lead to a rise in highly-sophisticated, self-learning cyber threats, putting businesses and governments at increased risk. Against the backdrop of enhanced remote working, alongside growing volumes of data, it’s vital that organisations have robust security systems in place to protect physical and digital assets like laptops and networks from cyber attacks. Resilience is also fundamental, including having the technology in place to automatically self-heal and upgrade security applications, as well as threat monitoring, to prevent hackers from gaining a foothold.”

While Patrick Wake, Group Director of Information Security, FDM Group highlighted the importance of skills: “Cyber security requires senior experienced talent but they’re a scarce and expensive resource. At FDM we recognise the paramount importance of laying a strong foundation. That’s why we train entry-level talent in the fundamental elements of technology as well as cyber security, from security operations to identity access management and device governance. The emergence of AI introduces a new dimension of risk. However, the fundamentals should not be forgotten. it is imperative to invest in hiring and upskilling to ensure a robust team equipped with the right skills.”

“While software and security tools play a pivotal role in an organisation’s security posture, you still need the right people behind the keyboards to get the most out of them.  By focusing on the security foundations of your organisation, you can enable opportunities for the next generation of security professionals as well as strengthen the basis of your entire security stack.”

Sarah Rench, Global GenAI Security & European Cyber Security Lead, ICOE, Avanade said: “The rise of technology has given us access to more data than ever before. But with greater convenience comes an increased risk of cyberattacks and other security threats. It’s important to stay informed about the latest cybersecurity trends to keep up with this growing threat. We need to have greater focus on cyber security and GenAI security training, alongside user education & awareness both at school and throughout our professional and personal lives.”