Scheme launched to help Scottish businesses prevent cyber crime

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Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Scotland are being given the chance to enlist the services of an industry expert to assist them with a cyber security strategy. The Cyber Resilience Voucher Scheme has been launched by the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership (featuring Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Business Gateway and Cosla) and the value of the voucher is up to £1,500 per company. 80 applications have been received so far, with another 120 still available.

A cyber resilience strategy will help businesses achieve Cyber Essentials; a UK Government developed accreditation scheme. Cyber Essentials is increasingly becoming a requirement in the procurement of products and services. A toolkit has also being developed that will help businesses to easily access the information on how to get the basics of cyber resilience right.

The Federation of Small Businesses found that 3 out of 10 of their members have been a victim of cyber crime with the total cost of cyber crime to the UK economy being valued at £27billion per annum.

Further research by UK Government initiative, Cyber Streetwise, found that SMEs are currently putting a third of their revenue at risk because they are falling for some of the common misconceptions around cyber security, leaving them vulnerable to losing valuable data and suffering both financial and reputational damage.

Paul Foley, Project Manager at Scottish Enterprise, said:

“All citizens and businesses are a potential target of a cyber attack, particularly if they do not take some simple precautionary measures to protect themselves. Any company that relies on computerised systems for payroll, marketing via social media or a website, booking systems, databases of customer details including payment details or any Intellectual Property or Patent information that could be of value is at risk. 

A business does not need to be specifically targeted to become a victim; cyber criminals constantly scan websites, systems and devices to detect vulnerabilities. Therefore, if you are not taking the appropriate steps, you will flag up as an easy target during this scanning process.

This voucher gives businesses one-to-one access with a cyber security expert to ensure measures are put in place to safeguard the business and its customers. On completion, the systems will be compliant with the Cyber Essentials UK Government Standard.” 

The scheme is already proving beneficial to businesses. Nick Cohen, Founder & CEO of bizanywhere, said:

“We decided to embark upon Cyber Essentials for a number of reasons. As an IT services company it’s important to us to lead by example. As an IT services company it’s important to us to lead by example. In the SME space in which we operate, security is often a lower priority as most of our clients are busy, growing businesses. Cyber attacks are hotter than ever before, with a number of companies (big and small) suffering financially and through reputation damage when an attack takes them down.

“Our service, bizanywhere, is rolled out in the exact same way for ourselves and clients so we were really pleased when we ticked all of the boxes laid out by the Cyber Essentials UK Government Standard.

“What’s even better? It’s free until the voucher scheme finishes but hurry as there is a limited amount – why would you not want to consider this in your own company?”

To be eligible for the voucher, SMEs have to be based in Scotland and have a relationship with Business Gateway, Highland and Islands Enterprise or Scottish Enterprise. The application can be accessed via business contacts at these three organisations. The deadline for applications is January 2017.