A SIGNIFICANT lack of skilled workers is hampering the UK's fight against cyber-crime, says an engineering and technology organisation.
The warning, from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), coincides with a report from the National Audit Office (NAO).
The NAO warns that the UK faces a current and future cyber security skills gap, with "the current pipeline of graduates and practitioners" unable to meet demand.
Hugh Boyes of the IET said: “The UK has been proclaimed as the ‘most internet-based major economy’. This obviously provides a rich and fertile basis for industry, and small businesses in particular, to expand and grow.
“However, there continues to be real and growing threats to our interests in cyberspace and these have increased with the growth of the ‘internet economy’.
“This issue is made worse by a lack of suitable professionals who can help us to combat the issues associated with cyber security. This situation will be exacerbated if we do not take urgent action now to fill the skills gap.”
The IET has been working with the Cabinet Office to ensure a better mix of skills for the future.
One of the ways it is hoped that will be achieved is by building software engineering best practice into undergraduate university degrees and encouraging more students to undertake postgraduate study of cyber security.
Mr Boyes added: “With a bigger pool of suitably qualified graduates we can improve cyber security by making software more secure, dependable and reliable.”
The NAO report says that the internet economy in the UK accounts for more than £120 billion - a higher proportion of GDP than any other G20 country.
The cost of cyber-crime is estimated to be between £18 billion and £27 billion a year, the report says.