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The UK’s cybersecurity sector attracted record levels of investment last year, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a government study.

The latest DCMS Annual Cyber Sector Report revealed there was a record £821m of investment raised by companies in this field across 73 deals in 2020, more than doubling the amount recorded in 2019.

This investment helped enable a 21% increase in cybersecurity firms operating in the UK in the period of April 2019 to December 2020, taking the total number up to 1483. There was also a 9% rise in employment in the sector, with over 3800 new full time jobs created, taking the total number of UK cyber-jobs to 46,683. A large majority (65%) of this workforce are employed by large firms that have 250+ employees, according to the analysis.

The sector in the UK is now estimated to be worth £8.9bn, with its total annual revenue rising by 7% in the most recent financial year. It also contributed over £4bn to the economy in this period, an increase of 6%.

The report also outlined the most commonly provided cybersecurity products and services by these companies, which included cyber-professional services, threat intelligence, monitoring, detection and analysis. Additionally, there was a significant growth in companies offering solutions for industrial control systems and IoT security, pointing to future requirements to secure smart cities.

Commenting, digital minister Matt Warman, said: “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.

“With more than 3800 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.”

Julian David, chief executive officer, techUK, added: “Reliable cybersecurity is essential for all organizations as they accelerate digital transformation in the wake of ongoing COVID-19 disruption and the UK industry is responding to that need. 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.”