The UK’s cybersecurity industry now employs nearly 50,000 people and attracted record investment in 2020, according to UK government figures.

The total number of UK cybersecurity jobs reached 46,683 as of December 2020, with 3,800 new roles created since April 2019.

A growing number of UK cybersecurity companies – up 21% to 1,483 – has helped create demand for IT security professionals.

According to The Department for Media, Culture and Sports Annual Cyber Sector Report, published Thursday, the UK’s cybersecurity sector contributed more than £4bn to the UK economy last year.

Overall, the UK cybersecurity sector is now worth an estimated £8.9bn.

The sector’s growth has been fuelled by record levels of investment in the UK cybersecurity industry. In 2020, UK cybersecurity businesses raised more than £821m in capital across 73 deals – a record number that more than doubles the level of investment in 2019.

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That’s despite the economic uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting the sector’s resilience.

Some £79m of that capital came from a private equity investment in Cambridge and San Francisco headquartered Darktrace. Founded in 2013, the £3.8bn valued company is expected to float on the London Stock Exchange in the first half of 2021.

Companies such as Sophos, Becrypt and BAE Systems are among other UK cybersecurity companies driving growth in the sector.

The majority – 65% – of the UK’s cybersecurity jobs are at firms with more than 250 employees.

Threat intelligence, monitoring, detection and analysis are the most commonly provided cybersecurity products.

However, there is also growth in areas such as industrial control system protection and IoT security, reflecting the increasing number of internet-connected devices in infrastructure and smart cities.

UK cybersecurity jobs branch out from London

The research also showed that 54% of cybersecurity firms are based outside of London and the South East, following a similar trend across the UK’s tech ecosystem as tech companies flock to hubs such as Manchester, Bristol and Leeds.

“The need for cutting-edge cybersecurity has never been greater and this resilient sector is growing, diversifying and solidifying its status as a jewel in the UK’s tech crown,” said Digital Minister Matt Warman, ahead of the report’s publication.

“With more than 3,800 new jobs created, firms – large and small – are doing vital work keeping people and businesses secure online so we can build back safer from the pandemic.

“I am committed to supporting the industry to reach new heights, create more jobs and lead new innovations in this field.”

UK cybersecurity startups have been able to access a £1.25bn government support package during the pandemic. Early-stage startups can also receive support from initiatives such as the LORCA cyber accelerator and he NCSC Accelerator, while the DCMS-funded CyberASAP programme helps commercialise cybersecurity research from UK universities.

“Reliable cybersecurity is essential for all organisations as they accelerate digital transformation in the wake of ongoing Covid-19 disruption and the UK industry is responding to that need,” said Julian David, CEO, techUK.

“This research shows a sector going from strength to strength, with increasing investment in our growing cyber ecosystem and, perhaps most significantly, uptake of the technologies and services keeping UK citizens and business safe.”

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