Select Committee on Digital Skills - Report of Session 2014–15

Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future

Chapter 2: The core pre-conditions

22.While we recognise that there are many areas—including investment in science and cutting edge technology32—which will enable the UK to make the most of the digital opportunity, in our view there are three core pre-conditions to enable the UK to realise success: hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure and cyber risk management. Hard infrastructure is the physical equipment, pipes and cables necessary to run the digital economy.33 Soft infrastructure is developing a population and workforce with the abilities and skills to use the hard infrastructure.34 Straddling both hard and soft infrastructure is cyber risk management; defined as the protection of the UK’s hard and soft infrastructure. This includes cybercrime, cybersecurity, online security and business and personal risk.

23.We were struck by the large number of witnesses who told us that skills delivery is not joined-up, and is not prioritised by the Government—in contrast to the good work of the Government Digital Service (GDS)35 in delivering the Government’s ‘digital by default’ agenda (see Chapter 5, paragraph 293). Although hard infrastructure has seen much investment over recent years—for example, over £1 billion of Government subsidy for broadband36—soft infrastructure has not received an equivalent funding priority or attention. Evidence stressed that the importance of investing in soft infrastructure should not be underestimated, as “just building it [hard infrastructure] will not guarantee it is used”.37 Go ON UK38 summarised this point as:

“… the full economic value of the Government’s existing £1 billion investment in improving and upgrading the UK’s broadband infrastructure will surely be constrained without a corresponding increase in the number of citizens with the knowledge and understanding to take advantage of this new physical infrastructure”.39

24.Despite this relative lack of funding, we were told that investment in online skills had already reaped high returns.40 In paragraph 44 we explain that if soft infrastructure was given an equivalent investment priority as that given to hard infrastructure, there would be significant potential for growth. An increase in the number of people with the right skills and knowledge means more will be able to make use of the hard infrastructure and digital technologies.

Part I: Hard infrastructure

“It would be really rather ironic if at the end of this we had 95% coverage across the whole of Cornwall and Northern Ireland but only 85% coverage across the whole of the city of London”.41—Sean Williams, Group Director Strategy, Policy and Portfolio, BT

Box 3: Key Statistic: Hard infrastructure

  • The UK has significantly increased its superfast broadband42coverage in recent years from 55–60% in 2013 to 70–75% in 2014.43

25.There was varying evidence on the state of the UK’s hard infrastructure. Some witnesses told us that the UK’s infrastructure was relatively good, particularly when compared with international competitors.44 Others suggested that the UK was beginning to fall behind in a number of respects.45

26.We heard from Dominic Field of Boston Consulting Group that the UK’s hard infrastructure was “in relatively good shape”.46 According to Ofcom’s 2014 European Broadband Scorecard, the UK compared favourably in terms of internet infrastructure, with 95% of all households having access to current generation broadband services;47 this was equal with the top five performing countries in the European Union (EU) (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK).48 In terms of superfast broadband, the UK also saw improved performance (see Box 3 above). The UK had the highest level of coverage of the top five EU countries, overtaking Germany (which had 65–70% coverage).49

27.Paul Willmott from the consultancy firm McKinsey & Company was also positive about the UK’s hard infrastructure. In particular, Mr Willmott focused on broadband and 4G50 broadband penetration, claiming that the UK was “in the top tier globally on those metrics”.51

28.The Government’s evidence highlighted a number of actions it was taking to improve hard infrastructure (see Appendix 5) and noted that the UK performed comparatively well at an international level across a range of external indicators:52 9th in the world in the Networked Readiness Index 2014;53 top of the EU554 for take-up of superfast broadband, with nine connections per 100 people, and usage amongst those connected more than twice that in other major EU countries;55 and the lowest priced broadband amongst the EU5 and the USA.56

29.The evidence showed, however, that wider international comparisons provided a less complimentary picture; for example, when compared to South Korea, which announced in January 2014 its plans to deliver a national 5G wireless network offering speeds of 1 gigabits per second (Gbps) by December 2020.57 Marcus Mason from the British Chambers of Commerce noted that the UK had “begun to lag behind on 4G” and that the development of 5G could be an opportunity for the UK to take the lead.58 In addition, since the Networked Readiness Index was published in 2014, the UK’s position has fallen by six places to 15th.59

30.The UK was also thought to be falling behind in broadband speed.60 A report by Digital Business First61 claimed that 10 million UK premises (homes and businesses) were currently unable to access superfast broadband services (and were limited to only standard broadband, or in some cases, no broadband at all).62 Data from Ookla’s Net Index Explorer63 found that in in January 2015, London’s average download broadband speed ranked 26th out of 33 other European capital cities.64 With an average speed of 25.44 megabits per second (Mbps), London’s score contrasted drastically with Bucharest (which came 1st), which had average speeds of 80.14Mbps (see Appendix 6). The data showed London had a speed more than 10Mbps slower than the European average of 36.4Mbps. Hyperoptic65 noted that London had dropped four places in the league table, having been 22nd out of 33 in 2009 with average speeds of 7.1Mbps. Although London’s speed increased by 270.3%, this did not keep up with other European cities.66

31.On a global scale, the UK’s broadband speeds were described in The Times in early 2015 as being “stuck in the slow lane”.67 A report by Akamai (a US cloud computing68 company) found that the UK’s average broadband speed was 10.7Mbps in the third quarter of 2014—ranking the UK 19th in the world for average speeds and 12th in Europe. This result contrasted with South Korea, which had over double the average speed of 25.3Mbps. Whereas Ireland experienced a 10% jump in speed since the last quarter (ranking 7th globally), the UK’s result was 3.7% lower than the previous measurement.69

Internet ‘not-spots’

32.There is an issue in urban areas, where “the economics of deploying fibre [broadband] can be just as challenging as in rural areas”.70 This was described as “not-spots”71 and also “white areas” or “white spots”.72 In these circumstances, businesses were still having difficulty connecting to fixed and mobile broadband, including in areas such as Essex and Doncaster.73 Mr Mason pointed out that this could hamper business growth, both in trading internationally and in developing e-commerce business.74

33.The Government has made significant efforts in this area. In December 2014, the Government announced a legally binding agreement with mobile operators: to make a guaranteed £5 billion investment to improve mobile infrastructure by 2017; and to guarantee voice and text message coverage from each operator across 90% of the UK’s geographic area by 2017, “halving the areas currently blighted by patchy coverage as a result of partial ‘not-spots’”. This will also result in cutting total ‘not-spots’, where there is currently no mobile coverage, by two-thirds.75 We believe it is important that the UK does not become complacent.

34.We are concerned about the pace of universal internet coverage and the delivery of superfast broadband. In particular, we find it unacceptable that, despite Government efforts, there are still urban areas experiencing internet ‘not-spots’, which is hampering universal coverage and the UK’s international competitiveness.

The internet as a utility

35.The OECD noted the internet “directly supports two key engines of long-term economic growth—knowledge accumulation and technological advancement”.76 In addition, as “the internet economy gains momentum, the economic landscape changes”, with the internet now “widely considered a fundamental infrastructure in OECD countries, in much the same way as electricity, water and transportation networks”, and referred to as a “general purpose technology”.77

36.We were attracted to this approach, but as yet the UK is behind many other OECD countries as it does not view the internet as a fundamental part of the nation’s infrastructure.

37.In Chapter 1 we outlined the importance of the internet to everyone’s lives—at work and at home. Later in this Chapter we show the personal and economic benefit of online skills; which will only be secured with universal access to the internet. As Lucy Hastings from Age UK said: “… access to the internet should be treated as a utility service”.78 We agree. The Government should make it its ambition to ensure universal access for the entire population. If this could be achieved, the UK would be well-placed to achieve significant growth.

38.Elix-IRR79 said that the Government could help support increased access through municipal wireless networks, something that other countries have already started doing: “Universal free Wi-Fi in large cities would support the development of digital capabilities … Cape Town and Singapore are just two of the cities that currently do this for economic and social benefit”.80

39.Cape Town has a Universal Broadband Network Strategy (see Box 4), and recognises that “Access to the internet is critical for economic development. A lack of access effectively shuts out people from participation in the formal economy and the global information highway.”81 The scheme, however, has drawn criticisms for not being ambitious enough. According to The Atlantic, “It offers too little data—and, with a completion date of 2030, [is] too late.”82

40.Estonia—often cited as the most connected OECD country—is a member of the Freedom Online Coalition83, as is the UK. Estonia considers internet freedom “to be an undivided part of human rights”.84 The Public Information Act (2000) in Estonia guarantees that “Every person shall be afforded the opportunity to have free access to public information through the Internet in public libraries.”85

Box 4: Universal WiFi in Cape Town

“The City’s fibre optic cables provide the backbone of wireless networks now being tested in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain. Once the technical model has been finalised, this will bring internet connectivity and other telecommunications services to over a million people living in areas which the private sector has not serviced adequately until now.

“This project builds on the success of the City’s SmartCape project, which provides free internet access at 102 public libraries throughout the metro. Today the SmartCape project has expanded to provide Wi-Fi internet access in public buildings, and has over 300,000 users.

“This service, in contrast with other cities, will see Wi-Fi services provided in underserviced communities in a sustainable manner. It is envisaged that we will have a Mesh Network which will provide extensive Wi-Fi coverage beyond just a limited number of hot spots and directly into most people’s homes.”86

41.The Independent Library Report called for the Government to make funding available to “enable local authorities to extend [free] WiFi access, computer facilities and workforce training for all public libraries in England”.87 While we note that there are fewer libraries than previously, with more closures planned, we were struck by the idea that increased WiFi access would “meet user needs” and “encourage a wider demographic” into libraries.88 In the UK many more local institutions—such as schools—could extend the range of their WiFi access to the local community.89 For example, the Vice Principal of George Spencer Academy, Paul Hynes, told us that the school was in the position to “push out our wireless network to the local community”.90

42.The evidence highlighted other good initiatives across the UK. The City of London Corporation, for example, said it provided “a free Wi-Fi network covering approximately 85% of the Square Mile’s public areas”, with usage “increasing by 11% per month”.91 In December 2014, Greater Manchester announced its plans to install mobile internet on all trams and bus services across its Metrolink network at the start of 2015, set to be completed by the spring.92 This is a welcome initiative, and one that we hope will be replicated throughout the UK.

43.We agree with our witnesses who urged that the Government should define the internet as a utility service that is available for all to access and use. This is the bedrock of digital competitiveness.

Part II: Soft infrastructure

Digital inclusion

“The possible benefits to the Government, to businesses and to our society are so considerable that we must make this investment.”93—UK Digital Skills Taskforce94 and TeenTech CIC

Box 5: Key Statistic: Digital inclusion

  • Universal digitisation, including universal digital access, could be worth up to £63 billion in additional annual GDP growth.95

44.Evidence from Go ON UK and others showed that inclusive access to the internet and digital technologies maximised the UK’s potential for future economic growth, as well as enabled workers to participate more fully in the future labour market. Appendix 7 provides Go ON UK’s definition of “basic” digital skills. Research by Go ON UK with Booz & Company showed universal digitisation (including universal access) could be worth up to £63 billion in additional annual GDP.96 Furthermore, the value of a minimum level of online skills and access to online services for individuals (who were previously offline) was estimated at £1,064 per year.97 This increased to £3,568 a year for those individuals who progressed to more advanced skills (such as the daily use of digital technologies in their job).98 Part I of Chapter 3 discusses in more detail the different levels of digital skills required (see paragraphs 84–87).

45.It is important that the core package of digital skills extends beyond a minimum level, to the skills required for almost all jobs. Many entry-level jobs require some degree of interaction with digital technologies—whether this be carers, personal services, sales and sales-related jobs, transport and machine operators, delivery drivers, or cashiers. For instance, as Dr Lisa Payne told us: “It is a new requirement that low-skill manual employees such as cleaners need digital skills, for instance to manage their holiday requests and other HR [human resources] activities through websites.”99

46.To maximise the UK’s full economic potential, the entire population (including all school pupils—see paragraphs 109–116) will need to have access to the internet and digital technologies, and the ability to use them. The evidence identified, however, that digital inclusion (see Box 6) was a persistent problem in the UK—specifically, for those with disabilities, older people and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Box 6: The Government’s definition of digital inclusion

The Government’s Digital Inclusion Strategy provides the following definition:

“Digital inclusion, or rather, reducing digital exclusion, is about making sure that people have the capability to use the internet [and wider technology] to do things that benefit them day to day …

“Digital inclusion is often defined in terms of:

  • “Digital skills—being able to use computers and the internet. This is important, but a lack of digital skills is not necessarily the only, or the biggest, barrier people face.
  • “Connectivity—and access to the internet. People need the right infrastructure but that is only the start.
  • “Accessibility—services should be designed to meet all users’ needs, including those dependent on assistive technology to access digital services. Accessibility is a barrier for many people, but digital inclusion is broader.”100

47.Caution is necessary when using statistics to discuss digital inclusion (and by the same token, digital exclusion), because the term is difficult to quantify. The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE),101 for example, said: “The exact statistics for digital exclusion differs according to source and definition”.102

48.Nevertheless, we heard evidence that a significant number of people in the UK are at risk of exclusion: an estimated 20% of the population (9.5 million people) lacked a minimum level of digital skills.103 Of this group, 49% were disabled, 63% were over 75 and 60% had no formal qualifications.104 Furthermore, 37% of social housing tenants lacked basic digital skills, whilst 33% of people with registered disabilities had never used the internet.105 Appendix 12 shows the overall percentage of internet non-users across the UK, broken down by region.

49.We were told that increased access to digital and online skills improved chances of employment—for example, by enabling people to apply for the 164,000 UK job vacancies106 which were only posted online. As a consequence, Frog Education107 noted that the expertise, skills and potential output of the older generation (an example of a digitally excluded group) were not being exploited.108

50.The economic benefits of improving online access amongst the population were contrasted with the estimated cost for delivery. It was argued by the UK Digital Skills Taskforce and TeenTech CIC that the potential benefits of equipping 100% of the UK adult population were “so considerable that we must make this investment”.109

51.Additional benefits of reducing digital exclusion included enhanced access to information and services across a broad range of areas, including health, consumer issues and finance.110 Respondents stressed that technology could be used to the benefit of those with disabilities by removing or ameliorating impairment,111 and for older people by keeping them socially engaged from their home.112

52.We consider that the Government has a responsibility to accelerate the attainment of digital literacy across the population. Future governments must have the ambition to achieve this to realise the UK’s economic potential. It must not stop there; changing technologies demand constant updating of expertise. The Government is responsible for ensuring the UK’s population keeps pace with the best in the world.


“… often there are more iPads in the room than there are women. It is shameful.”113—Iain Wood, Public Affairs Manager, TalkTalk

Box 7: Key Statistic: Women

  • Increasing the number of women working in information technology (IT) could generate an extra £2.6 billion each year.114

53.Women make up under 30% of the information and communications technology (ICT) workforce, comprising around 20% of computing graduates and under 10% of app115 developers.116 Elix-IRR saw this as drastically holding back the UK from fulfilling its economic potential.117 Mr Mason said that businesses must be made to realise that whilst there is a social imperative, “there is also a very strong talent pipeline imperative”, and if you can “crack the issue” of getting more girls into those types of career, there could be huge business benefits.118

54.Some witnesses considered that the lack of women was wider than digital, as women make up only 6% of the engineering workforce119 and only 15.5% of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce.120 This is an education and careers guidance issue—for instance BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS)121, noted that of 4,000 students who took computer science at A level, less than 100 were girls.122 The University and Colleges Admissions Service found that in 2014, “17,300 more men than women enter computer science, and 20,300 more men enter engineering [see Chart 1 below]. In both these areas men make up over 85 per cent of acceptances”.123

Chart 1: Difference in the number of acceptances between men and women by each subject group at higher education level in 2014124

Chart 1: Difference in the number of acceptances between men and women by each subject group at higher education level in 2014

55.A report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on graduates in the UK labour market in 2013 found that on average, men earned £3 more an hour than women; partly explained by the subjects male and female graduates studied. The report found that out of the top five subjects associated with the highest average gross annual earnings, “four of them were subjects which male graduates are more likely to have studied than female graduates: Engineering, Physical/Environmental Sciences, Maths/Computer Science and Architecture”.125

56.We received extensive evidence to show significant efforts were needed to increase the number of women taking STEM subjects at school and moving into STEM careers in general.126 This would increase the pool of talent and subsequently reap higher returns.127

57.Professor Judy Wajcman from the London School of Economics (LSE) summarised:

“… the kind of innovation we are getting relies on the whole on young men with narrow engineering degrees thinking about the future … I say, ‘If we had a more diverse workforce, would we not be able to think of and tap talent for lots of different things?’ If we want a creative industry, we need a diverse workforce”.128

58.We were told that one of the main causes for the difficulty in attracting women to digital and STEM occupations is that they are seen as largely male-dominated roles:129 “Crucially, tech roles are far too often seen as jobs for the boys.”130 Part of this is due to a perception of what digital and STEM jobs are.131 In reality, the range of jobs is huge. Table 1 below gives examples of non-traditional STEM jobs. There are many more.

Table 1: Examples of non-traditional STEM professions



Computer animator

Computer animation is the process used for generating animated images by using computer graphics. It can include: computer visualisation; computer animation arts; software development for games and effects; 3D animation; and digital effects.132

Cosmetic chemist

A cosmetic chemist formulates cosmetic products such as shampoo, skin cream and so on. Initial experiments can be simulated on digital technologies using data about the raw materials, before experimenting in laboratory conditions.133

Forensic scientist/engineer

Forensic skills are used in areas including archaeology, the food and pharmaceutical industries, criminal justice, and at disaster scenes. A forensic scientist applies science to law enforcement or the failure of products or processes. Digital forensics is the analysis of digital evidence such as mobile phones, tablets and digital photographs. Forensic engineering is the investigation of materials, products, structures or components that fail or do not operate or function as intended, causing personal injury or damage to property.134


Architects now use digital tools to generate and evaluate design and fabricate complex assemblies. Computer modelling and simulation is used alongside analogue constructions in order to foster all aspects of digital fabrication.135

Electrical engineer

An electrical engineer on the railway will use the latest design software systems and state of the art technology to develop train design. They will also work on live dynamic testing simulated on the computer and in test facilities.136

59.Our witnesses talked about the need to increase the visibility of women in digital jobs and make greater use of female role models.137 The UK Digital Skills Taskforce and TeenTech CIC said: “Most people have heard of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg but struggle to cite a female role model … it is hardly surprising that we have digital skills shortages given that we are failing to make the most of the talents of almost half of the potential workforce.”138 Whilst it is easy to name prominent male figures in the technology sector, this is not the case for women. British Sky Broadcasting highlighted its one day workshop, ‘IT’s not just for the boys’, which was solely for female graduates.139 Sue Husband of the Skills Funding Agency told us that businesses were using female role models in schools because they “see that there is half their talent pool that they are not accessing”.140 There were also suggestions made about the influencing role of parents and the media; we cover these in more detail in Part II of Chapter 3 under careers guidance (see paragraphs 160–180), as the issue extends beyond women.

60.The paucity of women in digital and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is holding back UK competitiveness. We agree with our witnesses that increasing the numbers of women could reap significant benefits. Girls have to be engaged earlier and across all education levels. The perception of digital and STEM jobs and subjects as male-orientated must be addressed.

Part III: Cyber risk management

“… as we have seen an increase in digital, we have also seen an increase in attack.”141—Nick Coleman, Global Head of Security Intelligence, IBM Services

“What we are facing is almost a tsunami of electronic attacks.”142—Stephanie Daman, CEO, Cyber Security Challenge

Box 8: Key Statistics: Cyber risk management

  • There were 44 million reported cyber-attacks in the UK in 2011 alone.143
  • Cybercrime is estimated to cost the UK economy £27 billion a year.144

Cybersecurity: the pace and scale of the challenge

61.The frequency of cyber-attacks has more than matched broader technology development. Nick Coleman from IBM Services noted that whilst developments such as cloud and Big Data analytics were allowing us to do new things, they were also creating a challenge for security.145 Stephanie Daman of Cyber Security Challenge146 highlighted that today, “everything is based on something that is connected to the internet … everything at the bottom has an internet layer”, and unless that internet layer was properly secure, no one would have confidence in using it, ultimately resulting in a negative impact on the UK’s prosperity.147

62.A report carried out by Detica for the Government in 2011 estimated that cybercrime costs the UK economy £27 billion a year, a figure which it estimated was likely to be growing.148 This amounted to a cost of approximately £21 billion for businesses, £3.1 billion for citizens and £2.2 billion for the Government.149 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary’s ‘State of Policing’ report for 2013/14 found:

“Cyber crime is not an emerging threat; it is here now, and is already a large and growing problem. The ‘National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2014’ published by the National Crime Agency on 1 May 2014 commented that ‘based on the limited research evidence at present, the costs of cyber crime could reasonably be assessed to be several billion pounds per year.’”150

63.During an interview on the ‘cyber war’ games to be held between the UK and USA in early 2015, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, said that cyber-attacks were one of the “biggest modern threats” faced by the UK—with eight out of 10 large companies in the UK experiencing some form of cyber-attack.151

64.The last few years have seen more sophisticated and targeted attacks for a number of different motives from a variety of sources. In the main, Mr Coleman said that this was principally a concern for “our critical assets and protecting them”, ranging from the energy sector to the UK’s banking system, and ensuring that they continued to run as expected and without disruption.152

65.With the increase in malware153 and cyber-attacks, and an increased reliance on digital technology and data, it is crucial that the appropriate safeguards are in place to defend the UK’s hard and soft infrastructure. We heard that this would be a challenge for everyone; for citizens in the way that they consumed services, and for business and the Government in understanding what the risk meant to their organisations.154 Moreover, Iain Wood from TalkTalk warned that the UK had to start addressing some of these concerns; which was not going to be done by treating skills or infrastructure in isolation.155

66.As a consequence, the evidence stressed that the UK needed individuals with the skills, knowledge and talent in the cybersecurity field to achieve this.156 Professor John Vivian Tucker and Dr Victoria Wang said:

“Cyber security is essential to the safety of the nation … Having cross-cutting knowledge, skills and capability to strengthen all our security objectives was stated in the [Government’s National Security] strategy as one of the four objectives in the next five years. This means that individuals would need to be taught how to protect themselves online; and businesses and organisations would need to be aware of the vulnerabilities in their systems and the threats that they face”.157

67.We were told, however, that there was a skills gap in the cybersecurity profession. Ms Daman told us: “At the moment, in my view … we do not have a sufficient number of properly skilled people”.158 For Ms Daman, this gap was a result of cybersecurity not being taught in schools, resulting in a “lost generation” of youngsters who ended up teaching themselves and were left unaware of the career opportunities.159 She argued, therefore, that this skills gap should be addressed at the school level; not only would this “serve the wider digital skills agenda”, it would also build a “pool of people” who could then be upskilled into the cybersecurity profession.160 This could only be achieved if teachers were given the right resources. We were told that at present, “it is very patchy in the schools”, which was seen as largely due to teachers not knowing what and how to teach in relation to cybersecurity.161

68.In further and higher education, Hugh Boyes from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said that one of the big gaps was in how coding was taught. He agreed that at present, the core skills and knowledge tended to be taught as an add-on, rather than integral to courses. As a consequence, he said that these courses needed to teach not just how to code, “but how to defensively code”, so as to reduce risk.162 At present, cybersecurity is not taught as part of the curriculum; Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations told us one reason for this was: “… fast moving areas like cyber security are unlikely to have text books, as they would be out of date before they are published”.163

69.To combat this, the Open University told us of a newly launched Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)164 (see paragraphs 190–192) on cybersecurity developed with Government support.165 If text books cannot be up-to-date, there is a need for education to move to online courses for cybersecurity.

70.Mr Coleman told us that this was not just a school-based challenge, but one that applied to the whole of society.166 We heard that there were different levels of skills and everyone would need some of those skills at a personal level. Mr Boyes pointed out that a large proportion of the population was outside the school system: “… they are outside formal education and they are often not aware of the threats that the new technology brings with it”.167

71.The rise of the digital economy brings new risks to individuals, businesses and national security. These risks include loss of assets and lack of confidence in digital technologies, resulting in unwillingness to use them.

72.We agree with our evidence that the best way to defend against cyber risks and deter attacks is to ensure we train and deploy enough people with the relevant skills and expertise. Everyone will need a minimum level of ability in managing the risks associated with the digital economy. Resilience in the face of cyber-attacks must be built in across the economy.

Online safety and personal privacy

73.Part of the cybersecurity debate related to the increased importance of online safety and personal privacy; protecting your ‘online identity’ and ensuring children used technology (such as the internet) safely.168 For instance, polling for TalkTalk demonstrated that 25% of respondents had already been a victim of some sort of virus or online scam, with 75% expecting it to get worse. Mr Wood noted that “the vast majority” of parents wanted more information about how to keep their children safe online.169

74.In tackling issues around online safety, Mr Wood argued that we must “not presume that there is a one size fits all solution”, particularly as what motivated the early adopters to get online would not necessarily apply to the harder to reach people.170 Angela Morrison from Direct Line Group highlighted the role of industry in educating people to be safe online: “We absolutely work together [with education] … We have a cyber security module so that we make children aware of cyber security, because they do not understand it but they need to because their entire lives are online these days”.171

75.If the ambition is for universal internet access and digital literacy, this must be matched with increased cybersecurity awareness for all. Mr Boyes, for example, noted how there had been a culture shift in health and safety in the UK over the last 20 to 30 years, with safety now featuring high on the agenda. He argued that cybersecurity needed to transition to that status, “where everybody in an organisation is doing it”.172

76.Greater awareness is needed amongst the population in general. Although there was an acknowledgment of Government cybersecurity initiatives—such as Get Safe Online and Cyber Streetwise (see Appendix 5)—the evidence suggested that these were not in the public consciousness.173 It may be that there is space for an independent voice in promoting such initiatives because despite advice being made available, the public did not view it as trustworthy.174

77.The computer security software company McAfee told us that despite considerable investment in cross-cutting public awareness campaigns, “many … have been poorly targeted and conceived”, and did not have the impact desired.175 Instead, McAfee argued that the Government should have relied more on industry to assist with delivery. For example, McAfee explained that as a single organisation it reached over 15 million people and 60% of the retail market. Given the number of people who use computers, tablets and mobile devices, it would make more sense for the Government to partner with industry in order to reach a much wider audience.176 Awareness is particularly pertinent given the National Audit Office’s (NAO) findings that 80% of cyber-attacks could be prevented through “simple computer and network ‘hygiene’”.177 There must be a culture shift in the way the UK views cybersecurity. It must be looked at in a different way—as intrinsic to all online activities.

78.If the internet is to be viewed as a utility that is accessible to all, cybersecurity must, by extension, be considered an intrinsic part of our critical national infrastructure. We are concerned that there is an inadequate level of awareness amongst the population regarding online safety and personal risk management. Whilst we acknowledge that attempts have been made to increase awareness, such as through the Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign, these have not broken through. Given its importance, we believe that there needs to be a culture shift driven by the Government to ensure that the nature of the threat is better understood by the public.

Small and medium-sized enterprises and cyber risk management

79.Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are also at risk. Antony Walker from techUK told us: “Awareness is a critical issue for many businesses. Far too many companies are simply not aware of the relatively simple steps that they can take to protect themselves.”178 Mr Walker argued that whilst some work was being done, the Government—working with industry—could do more to help address the issue; primarily through increased education.179

80.Witnesses referred to initiatives aimed at supporting SMEs in regard to cybersecurity.180 The Government’s Cyber Essentials scheme (part of the Cyber Streetwise campaign) is a new Government-backed and industry supported scheme to guide businesses in protecting themselves against cyber threats.181 The scheme provides free information, clarifying good basic cybersecurity practice and encouraging organisations to adopt the requirements appropriate to their business. It is aimed at organisations of all sizes—including SMEs—and is not just limited to the private sector. Ms Daman suggested that initiatives such as these were not being marketed properly. Her view was that “we are not getting the word out sufficiently, because the material is there”, with the assumption that awareness should not be an issue with such material readily available.182

81.Such material is not sufficiently comprehensive, however, as the initiatives tend to be restricted to self-analysis and self-checking.183 We heard that if SMEs were to go beyond this, obtaining advice would be costly. Mr Boyes said: “Unless we can find some way of getting that advice to them [SMEs] at an affordable price, they will not take it.”184

82.There are a number of challenges facing SMEs in relation to digital technology, but these are considered in more detail in Part I of Chapter 4 (see paragraphs 219–239).

83.Individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at particular risk from cybersecurity issues due to a lack of awareness.

32 WEF, The Global Information Technology Report 2014 (2014): [accessed 30 January 2015]. “… fully leveraging ICTs is not dependent on small or medium-sized economies, but instead depends on undertaking the right investments and creating the right condition for it.” (page xiii)

33 This includes broadband coverage, broadband speeds, mobile phone coverage and mobile phone functionality (4G/5G—see footnote 50).

34 Other definitions of soft infrastructure include, for example, intellectual property rights, but these are not within the scope of our inquiry.

35 The Government Digital Service is leading the digital transformation of Government, making public services ‘digital by default’, and simpler, clearer and faster to use. See: HM Government, ‘Government Digital Service’: [accessed 28 January 2015]

36 Q 134 (Iain Wood)

37 Q 137 (Iain Wood). For example, TalkTalk pointed out that although three quarters of the UK population had access to the superfast broadband network, take-up stood at just 9%. See written evidence from TalkTalk (DSC0105)

38 Go ON UK is a charity responsible for helping people and businesses get online. See: [accessed 2 February 2015]

39 Written evidence from Go ON UK (DSC0079)

40 Q 134 (Iain Wood)

42 “Super-fast [or ‘next generation’] broadband is generally taken to mean broadband products that provide a maximum download speed that is greater than 24 Mbit/s [megabits per second]. This threshold is commonly considered to be the maximum speed that can be supported on current generation (copper-based) networks.” Source: Ofcom, Review of the wholesale local access market (March 2010), page 8: [accessed 3 February 2015]

43 Written evidence from Go ON UK (DSC0079). See also: Ofcom, The European Broadband Scorecard (March 2014): [accessed 4 December 2014]

44 For instance, Q 80 (Dominic Field) and written evidence from Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) (DSC0054)

45 For instance, written evidence from Communications Consumer Panel (CCP) (DSC0068) and Innovate UK (DSC0070)

47 See footnote 43.

48 Written evidence from Go ON UK (DSC0079). See also: Ofcom, The European Broadband Scorecard (March 2014): [accessed 4 December 2014]

49 Ibid.

50 The ‘G’ in 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G stands for the ‘generation’ of the mobile network. The higher number before the ‘G’ means more power to send out and receive more information. O2 and Vodafone launched their 4G networks in the UK in August 2013. 4G has internet speeds up to five times faster than 3G.

52 Written evidence from HM Government (DSC0084)

53 WEF, ‘Networked Readiness Index 2014’ (published in Global Information Technology Report 2014): [accessed 4 December 2014]

54 Collectively, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are sometimes referred to as the ‘EU5’.

55 Ofcom, Infrastructure Report: 2013 Update (October 2013): [accessed 4 December 2014]

56 Ofcom, International Communications Market Report (December 2013): [accessed 4 December 2014]

57 Written evidence from Go ON UK (DSC0079)

59 Correct as at 9 February 2015: WEF, ‘Networked Readiness Index’: [accessed 9 February 2015]. Down six positions since the Index was published in the Global Information Technology Report 2014: [accessed 30 January 2015]

60 Q 71 (Marcus Mason), written evidence from Bath Spa University (DSC0004), David Chan (DSC0007), Elix-IRR (DSC0046), Here East (DSC0048), Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP (DSC0054), CCP (DSC0068), The City of London Corporation (DSC0090) and Federation of Small Businesses (DSC0103)

61 Digital Business First is a campaign that was set up by business leaders in Oxford. Its central message is that enabling a faster, more connected infrastructure for the UK is the best way to promote growth and jobs. See: [accessed 2 February 2015]

62 Digital Business First, The UK’s Enduring Broadband Deficit: A divided nation: time for an effective plan (March 2014): [accessed 4 December 2014]

63 Based on millions of recent test results from Ookla Speedtest (see:, this index compares and ranks consumer download speeds around the globe. The value is the rolling mean speed in Mbps over the past 30 days. Only tests taken within 300 miles of the server are eligible for inclusion in the index.

64 Ookla, ‘Net Index Explorer’: [accessed 16 January 2015]. Data correct as of 16 January 2015. Any European cities not included is due to lack of data.

65 Hyperoptic is the UK’s leading fibre-to-the-home provider. See: [accessed 2 February 2015]

66 Hyperoptic, ‘London’s ‘digital economy’ hindered by poor broadband infrastructure’: [accessed 10 December 2014]

67 ‘British broadband speeds fail to hit promised target’, The Times (13 January 2015): [accessed 19 January 2015]

68 Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.

69 Akamai, State of the Internet (2014): [accessed 19 January 2015]

70 Supplementary written evidence from BT (DSC0104). Fibre broadband (‘fibre’) is seen as the future of broadband. Fibre broadband uses fibre optic cable and is capable of delivering very high-speed internet connections (significantly faster than conventional broadband services).

71 Written evidence from EE (DSC0026) and Northern Ireland Government (DSC0125)

72 Q 85 (Sean Williams) and supplementary written evidence from BT (DSC0104). “Not-spots” (or “white areas” or “white spots”) indicate regions where there is no broadband infrastructure and where no such infrastructure is likely to be developed in the near future (taken to mean three years). Definition taken from: Olswang, ‘EU guidelines on State aid for broadband networks’: [accessed 7 December 2014]

73 Q 71 (Marcus Mason)

74 Ibid.

75 Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), ‘Government secures landmark deal for UK mobile phone users’: [accessed 20 January 2015]

76 OECD Digital Economy Papers No. 242, Skills and Jobs in the Internet Economy (October 2014): [accessed 19 January 2015]

77 Ibid. Also see Q 224 (Andreas Schleicher)

79 Elix-IRR is an independent management consulting firm providing advice on strategy, transformation, change and execution. See: [accessed 22 January 2015]

80 Written evidence from Elix-IRR (DSC0046)

81 City of Cape Town, ‘City’s broadband achieves major milestone’: [accessed 19 January 2015]

82 CityLab, ‘Cape Town’s Universal Wi-Fi Program Isn’t Ambitious Enough’: [accessed 19 January 2015]

83 The Freedom Online Coalition is a partnership of 24 governments, working to advance internet freedom. Coalition members work closely together to coordinate their diplomatic efforts and engage with civil society and the private sector to support internet freedom—free expression, association, assembly and privacy online—worldwide. See: [accessed 2 February 2015]

84 Permanent Mission of Estonia in Geneva, ‘Human Rights and Estonia’: [accessed 20 January 2015]. Indeed, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has called for the internet to be recognised as a basic human right in the UK. See: Web Index: [accessed 3 February 2014]

85 Ministry of Justice, ‘Public Information Act 2000’: [accessed 20 January 2015] (section 33)

86 City of Cape Town, ‘City’s broadband achieves major milestone’: [accessed 19 January 2015]

87 DCMS, Independent Library Report for England (December 2014): [accessed 22 December 2014]

88 Ibid.

89 This would be similar to BT Openzone: people with BT Broadband have a router which as well as giving the customer broadband access is also transmitting the BT Openzone signal. In effect, all customers of BT provide WiFi access by using part of their bandwidth.

90 Q 161. Supplementary written evidence from the school provided further details: “Our system involves the school having a transmitter on an existing mast (cost approx. £800) and each transmitter can distribute wireless internet access to up to 100 receivers (cost approx. £45 each) that are placed on the houses of the people who are part of the scheme. These could be the homes of our own disadvantaged students who we have provided a device for (all free of charge) or members of our community that pay for the service. The system does away with the need for a landline connection which for the first time makes home internet access a possibility for any households that find themselves unable to get a landline.” See: Supplementary written evidence from George Spencer Academy (DSC0127)

91 Written evidence from The City of London Corporation (DSC0090)

92 ‘Work on kitting out all Metrolink trams with free wi-fi internet to start in January’, Manchester Evening News (16 December 2014): [accessed 30 December 2014]

93 Written evidence from UK Digital Skills Taskforce and TeenTech CIC (DSC0101)

94 The UK Digital Skills Taskforce, chaired by Maggie Philbin (former Tomorrow’s World presenter, technology broadcaster and CEO of TeenTech), was commissioned by the leader of the Labour Party, the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, to report on the state of the UK’s digital skills. The independent Taskforce engaged with hundreds of organisations to look at what needed to be done to nurture home-grown talent to meet the needs of the UK’s modern economy. Their aim was to gather practical suggestions and understand what people working within education and industry felt needed to change, based on real-world experience. See: [accessed 10 February 2015]

95 Booz & Company, “This Is for Everyone”: The Case for Universal Digitisation (November 2012): [accessed 16 January 2015]. “The U.K. could have increased its 2011 GDP by up to £63 billion if it had achieved global digital leadership, as defined by the Booz & Company Digitization Index … The index is calculated by quantifying 23 key metrics, which provide either direct or proxy indicators for the maturity of the country’s digital foundations and digital usage. Based on 10 years of historical data, the Booz & Company Digitization Index has been stress tested for statistical significance and correlation with changes in GDP. A more detailed description of the methodology, which has been peer-reviewed by the academic community and was included in the 2012 WEF report on digitisation, can be found in Booz & Company’s ‘Maximizing the Impact of Digitization’.” (page 9)

96 Q 141 (Iain Wood), written evidence from Elix-IRR (DSC0046), Go ON UK (DSC0079) and TalkTalk (DSC0105). See also: Booz & Company, “This Is for Everyone”: The Case for Universal Digitisation (November 2012): [accessed 15 December 2014]

97 Written evidence from Go ON UK (DSC0079)

98 Ibid.

99 Written evidence from Dr Lisa Payne (DSC0031)

100 Cabinet Office, ‘Government Digital Inclusion Strategy’ (April 2014, updated November 2014): [accessed 3 December 2014]

101 Founded in 1921, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) is an educational charity in England and Wales, dedicated to promoting adult learning. See: [accessed 22 January 2015]

102 Written evidence from NIACE (DSC0088)

103 Q 113 (Rachel Neaman), Q 136 (Iain Wood), written evidence from Tinder Foundation (DSC0077), Go ON UK (DSC0079) and TalkTalk (DSC0105)

104 Written evidence from Tinder Foundation (DSC0077)

105 Written evidence from HM Government (DSC0084)

106 164,000 is 25% of the overall number of UK job vacancies. Source: ONS, ‘Labour Market Statistics, August 2014’: [accessed 3 December 2014]

107 Frog Education is an education technology solution provider that works with primary and secondary schools around the world to help them engage students and raise education attainment. See: [accessed 2 February 2015]

108 Written evidence from Frog Education (DSC0071)

109 Written evidence from UK Digital Skills Taskforce and TeenTech CIC (DSC0101)

110 Written evidence from Go ON UK (DSC0079)

111 Written evidence from Association for Learning Technology (ALT) (DSC0057)

112 Written evidence from Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) (DSC0049)

114 Centre for Economics and Business Research, Women in IT: closing the gender gap (April 2014): [accessed 13 February 2015]

115 A mobile ‘app’ (application) is a computer programme designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices.

116 Written evidence from Confederation of British Industry (CBI) (DSC0074) and supplementary written evidence from Microsoft (DSC0006)

117 Written evidence from Elix-IRR (DSC0046)

119 Women’s Engineering Society, ‘Useful Statistics’: [accessed 15 December 2014]

120 Written evidence from Elix-IRR (DSC0046)

121 BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS), champions the global IT profession and the interests of individuals engaged in that profession for the benefit of all. See: [accessed 22 January 2015]

122 Written evidence from BCS (DSC0051)

123 University and Colleges Admissions Service, ‘More women than men in two thirds of subject areas’: [accessed 22 January 2015]

124 Source: University and Colleges Admissions Service, ‘More women than men in two thirds of subject areas’: [accessed 22 January 2015]

125 ONS, Graduates in the UK Labour Market 2013 (November 2013): [accessed 15 December 2014]

126 Q 74 (Marcus Mason), written evidence from Fiona Scott Lazareff (DSC0028), British Sky Broadcasting (DSC0036), , Here East (DSC0048), NMI Systems & Software Leaders Network (NMI) (DSC0062) and Samsung Electronics UK (DSC0092). See also QQ 15–25 (Professor Judy Wajcman’s opening remarks)

127 Written evidence from Elix-IRR (DSC0046). See also: WISE, Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: from Classroom to Boardroom (2012): [accessed 20 January 2015]

128 See QQ 15–25 (Professor Wajcman’s opening remarks)

129 Written evidence from British Sky Broadcasting (DSC0036), Humber LEP (DSC0060), Prospect (DSC0064), Innovate UK (DSC0070) and CBI (DSC0074)

130 Written evidence from UK Digital Skills Taskforce and TeenTech CIC (DSC0101)

131 Written evidence from Philip Virgo (DSC0034), IET (DSC0049), Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) (DSC0056) and UK Digital Skills Taskforce and TeenTech CIC (DSC0101)

132 Bournemouth University, ‘National Centre for Computer Animation’: [accessed 29 January 2015]

133 University of the Arts London, ‘MSc Cosmetic Science’: [accessed 29 January 2015]; and Chemists Corner, ‘How to become a Cosmetic Chemist’: [accessed 21 January 2015]

134 Open University, ‘Digital Forensics’: [accessed 29 Janury 2015]; Annual Reviews, ‘Forensic Chemistry’:–155251 [accessed 22 January 2015]; and Veritech, ‘White Paper: Digital Photograph Use in Forensic Accident Reconstruction’: [accessed 22 January 2015]

135 London Metropolitan University, ‘Digital Architecture and Manufacturing (MA)’: [accessed 2 February 2015]

136 Network Rail, ‘Electrical and electronic engineering’: [accessed 3 February 2015]

137 Q 13 (Oliver Quinlan), Q 24 (Professor Wajcman), Q 50 (Hugh Milward, Mike Warriner), Q 74 (Angela Morrison), Q 167 (Paul Hynes), Q 199 (Gary Warke, Angela Harrington), written evidence from London Borough of Camden (DSC0058), Humber LEP (DSC0060), CBI (DSC0074) and UK Digital Skills Taskforce and TeenTech CIC (DSC0101)

138 Written evidence from UK Digital Skills Taskforce and TeenTech CIC (DSC0101)

139 Written evidence from British Sky Broadcasting (DSC0036)

143 National Audit Office (NAO), The UK cyber security strategy: Landscape review (February 2013): [accessed 17 December 2014]

144 Detica, The Cost of Cyber Crime: A Detica report in partnership with the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance in the Cabinet Office (February 2011): [accessed 15 December 2014]

146 Cyber Security Challenge is a series of national competitions, learning programmes, and networking initiatives designed to identify, inspire and enable more EU citizens resident in the UK to become cybersecurity professionals. See: [accessed 2 February 2015]

148 Detica, The Cost of Cyber Crime—A Detica report in partnership with the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance in the Cabinet Office (February 2011): accessed [15 December 2014]

149UK cyber crime costs £27bn a year—government report’, BBC News (17 February 2011): [accessed 17 December 2014]

150 Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2013/2014 (November 2014): [accessed 20 January 2015]

151US and UK to stage cyber war games, says Cameron’, BBC News (16 January 2015): [accessed 19 January 2015]

153 Malware is software that is specifically designed to disrupt or damage a computer system.

154 Q 56 (Antony Walker) and Q 173 (Nick Coleman)

156 Q 173 (Nick Coleman), written evidence from McAfee (DSC0022), CompTIA (DSC0082), HM Government (DSC0084) and BT (DSC0091)

157 Written evidence from Professor John Vivian Tucker and Dr Victoria Wang (DSC0023)

161 Q 177 (Stephanie Daman)

163 Written evidence from Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR) (DSC0014)

164 A MOOC is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the internet. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for learners.

165 Department for Business, Innovate & Skills (BIS), ‘Government supports UK’s next generation of cyber security professionals’: [accessed 20 January 2015]

168 Q 73 (Angela Morrison), Q 81 (Sean Williams), written evidence from UK Computing Research Committee (DSC0011), Association of Information Technology in Teacher Education (ITTE) (DSC0050), RCUK (DSC0055) and Science Council (DSC0096)

173 Q 182 (Stephanie Daman)

174 Q 186 (Stephanie Daman)

175 Written evidence from McAfee (DSC0022)

176 Ibid.

177 NAO, The UK cyber security strategy: Landscape review (February 2013): [accessed 17 December 2014]

180 Q 187 (Stephanie Daman, Hugh Boyes)

181 Cyber Street, ‘Cyber Essentials’: [accessed 5 December 2014]

183 Q 187 (Hugh Boyes)

184 Ibid.