A partnership between the UK government and chipmaker Arm to develop new chip technologies that are more resistant to cyberattacks has been welcomed by the cybersecurity industry.

Backed by £36m funding, the partnership is set to see the creation of new chip architectures that are harder for hackers to manipulate and use to take control of computer systems, meaning it could help to reduce cyberattacks and data breaches.

“Cyberattacks can have a particularly nasty impact on businesses, from costing them thousands of pounds in essential revenue to reputational harm,” said business secretary Andrea Leadsom of the partnership.

“It’s critical that we are ahead of the game and developing new technologies and methods to confront future threats, supporting our businesses and giving them peace of mind to deliver their products and services safely.”

The announcement is the latest in of the Digital Security by Design initiative, which has seen the government partner with a number of private technology companies. Alongside Arm, the government has entered into partnerships with Google and Microsoft.

Arm-government partnership to design out chip security issues

The partnership between Arm and the government will see the development of chips that are inherently more secure than current technologies.

While many cybersecurity efforts happen at the software level, security issues with chip designs have enabled a large number of cybersecurity incidents, including Meltdown and Spectre.

“Achieving truly robust security for a world of a trillion connected devices requires a radical shift in how technology companies approach cyber-threats,” said Richard Grisenthwaite, chief architect and Fellow at Arm.

“Research into new ways of building inherently more cyber-resilient chip platforms is critical.”

Cybersecurity industry welcomes announcement

The announcement has been met with positive reactions from the cybersecurity industry, with many seeing it as a key step towards building security in from the very start of the development process.

“The UK government’s partnership with Arm is a significant milestone in its strategy to ‘design out’ cyber threats, and signifies a growing recognition that defensive cybersecurity strategies alone are not enough,” said Derek Weeks, VP and DevOps Advocate at Sonatype.

“For too long businesses have focused on building walls to keep the bad guys out, and have failed to address critical security flaws within the technology itself. To truly protect against cyber threats, security can’t be an afterthought; companies need to go on the offence, and design security into their software and hardware from the very beginning.”

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“Increased connectivity and digitalisation have made us more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, leading to a growing urgency to build a more cyber resilient world,” added Robert Ramsden Board, VP EMEA at Securonix.

“Therefore, cooperation between the UK Government, technology vendors and businesses is an important step in ensuring British businesses and the public are protected against cyber-attacks and online threats.”

The move will, however, signal a dramatic shift in the role security plays in device development.

“Arm has rightly said that achieving robust security requires a radical shift,” said Weeks.

“Businesses need to follow Arm’s lead, and proactively build security into devices, applications, and software from the start.”


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