What Brexit Means for Global Security Professionals

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dan Lohrmann


In a significant vote that has stunned the world, the citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) opted to leave the European Union (EU) in a recent vote that has taken aback political and economic experts alike who had anticipated the UK remaining in the EU.

The considerable implications of the referendum became immediately apparent, as Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intent to step down, and global stock markets sank dramatically. However, regardless of signs of economic turbulence and financial turmoil, the world managed the news in an orderly fashion.

Many people throughout the UK and the world applauded the new freedoms and liberty that could now be restored to the UK as a result of Brexit. I watched a number of interviews with people who were ecstatic with the result and felt any short-term pain was well worth it to “make Great Britain great again!”

Nonetheless, there are many others in the UK that feel agitated by this vote. We’ve all seen the feelings of the majority of young people, many of whom are in tech industries around London, which had hoped to stay in the EU and not feel cheated.

After Brexit…

Before we discuss likely bearings to the global technology industry, we must understand that the predictions about what’s next for the UK are all over the map.

Some pundits believe that this vote will ultimately lead to the end of the EU. Indeed other countries will likely have their own vote, if certain politicians have their way.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's anti-immigrant National Front party, wrote this on her Twitter account: “Victory for Freedom! As I have been asking for years, we must now have the same referendum in France and EU countries.” 

But while some have predicted the eventual demise of the Euro, other EU leaders called for the UK to leave the EU as soon as possible. Honestly, many EU political leaders want to get the exit over quickly.

Technology and Cybersecurity Repercussions

So what impacts should technology and cybersecurity professionals expect from the Brexit vote?

Remember that even though the vote has occurred, most legal changes could take two years or more to implement.

The International Business Times (IBT) reported on the possible cyber-impacts to the workforce talent crunch, the rising cost of business operations, data sharing and privacy laws, and the threat of a cyberattack growing. Nevertheless, I find several of these items to be quite embellished.

For example, I think the UK currently has the best cybersecurity workforce and capabilities in the EU, and it will be a larger loss for the EU cybersecurity community than for the UK. The UK has the most cybersecurity companies in Europe, and their ability to support other EU countries may be impacted.

Furthermore, ABI Research’s Michela Menting wrote this summary on the subject of Brexit and cybersecurity centering primarily on the skills shortages in cybersecurity being impacted.

“The tech industry, and cybersecurity notably, is experiencing a painful shortage of professionals. By opting out of the single market, and free movement of people, the UK’s labor pool will shrink considerably. Again, the outcome of negotiations with the EU as to the single market will largely determine the availability of an EU-wide labor pool. However, current uncertainty may drive cybersecurity firms to relocate in other EU countries in the meantime.” 

Brexit and Technology Security

In May, I wrote a post for Government Technology which highlighted the seven reasons you should care about Brexit, describing why this topic is important to Americans — including our technology and security repercussions.

I think it is very important to watch the developments throughout the EU and the UK negotiations over the next two years in order to grasp what will truly happen regarding technology and security.

As the dust and fear settle on both sides, some of the basic questions will be answered, including:

  • Will the UK remain in the free-trading bloc?
  • What EU regulations (including data and privacy) will still apply in the UK?
  • What actions will tech companies in the UK need to take to appease EU customers?
  • What other EU member states will leave?

For more immediate computer impacts, I urge end users around the world to be on the lookout for scams, phishing attempts and websites that take advantage of the Brexit confusion to trick people into taking foolish actions related to Brexit and surrounding issues.

The bad guys always show up in force with an assortment of phishing schemes in times of confusion like we are seeing today as a result of the Brexit referendum. Especially when people break out of normal patterns and click on new content. Therefore, know who you trust online.

Remember, these scams can come from anywhere, and at any time, including via your mobile phone, email, text or social media message. 

Related: Brexit: What Does it Mean for Cybersecurity and Privacy?

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