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From Secure Foundations to Resilient Futures: The UK as a leader in the design of resilient systems

  • By Nuala Kilmartin, Innovate UK and UKRI

    UKRI’s Digital Security by Design is a UK government-supported initiative being delivered by Innovate UK to transform digital technology and create a more resilient and secure foundation for a safer digital future.

    With collaboration between academia, industry and government delivering more secure semiconductor devices to pave the way for business and people to safely use and maintain trust in technology.

    As we are aware the digital world has changed significantly over the last decade. Internet access for instance has grown from 2bn users in 2011 to more than 5bn in 2023 with the number of connected devices growing from around 5 bn in 2011 to around 30bn in 2020 with that number continuing to grow.

    These changes and the growth in the use of digital technologies offer great opportunities across all business sectors and to the benefit of society as a whole. Governments and industry alike have embraced digital transformation to improve their products and services, however, with this opportunity they also face a major challenge: how to secure the digital world from cyber threats. As the digital world expands, so does the attack surface and the risk of harm from hackers, criminals, and the hostile actors.

    The UK Government understands the threats that this raises, therefore, across many of their digital strategies and consultations, security is an ever-present and increasingly important feature. The Integrated Review for instance highlighted that for the UK to become the cyber power it seeks to be, cyber security is the foundation.

    Nonetheless, cyber security practice as it currently exists; the constant arms race of monitoring and patching of vulnerabilities against exploitation, is unsustainable. For that reason, we need to ensure the digital world is delivered to be more secure by default and technology will protect against bugs by design, including at the hardware level. The UK’s most recent National Cyber Strategy recognises this need and therefore now includes a technology pillar to focus on more secure hardware with a significant part dedicated to the Digital Security by Design Programme (DSbD). The programme is also referenced as a key part of the National Semiconductor Strategy, by seeking to make the digital world more secure by design by introducing new hardware approaches that, for example, are already showing they can prevent any impact from around 70% of ongoing vulnerabilities while providing developers new tools to enable other more secure and more productive approaches

    DSbD works to enable a more trustworthy digital environment, in which only expected access to data and operations are permitted while limiting the impact of any remaining vulnerabilities. DSbD is promoting a mindset change for cyber security, giving the freedom to learn, trade, play, automate and collaborate safely through cyber best-practices, reducing the attack surface by default, and protecting operational integrity by design.

    With this new design, research suggests it is possible around 70% of ongoing memory safety vulnerabilities should be blocked from exploitation, with other features enabling developers to further extend the resilience of software. DSbD technology prototypes, Morello Boards, are available through for organisations and academics to explore the technology and find what benefit this revolutionary technology could have for you.

    Understand what this technology could do for you and to be a part of a new more secure future.

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