A new strategy to prevent small and medium-sized businesses falling victim to cyber-crime has been launched today by Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner and Hertfordshire County Council.
The joint strategy, the first in the country to focus on preventing cyber-crime rather than just responding to it, will bring together stakeholders from across the county to help SMEs protect themselves.
It’s estimated that cyber-crime costs the UK economy £11bn a year, with over two million people falling victim, but most small businesses are either unaware of the risk or don’t consider it serious. Even among those businesses that do, many feel there’s nothing they can do or don’t know where to start.
As well as raising awareness of the risks, the two year strategy will promote a support service for businesses that are worried about cyber-crime or have fallen victim
David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said: “Over ninety percent of Hertfordshire’s sixty thousand SMEs are ‘Micro’ businesses - meaning they have fewer than ten employees - and these are some of the most vulnerable to cyber risk. These businesses do not have teams of IT staff to support them, and many believe either they are not at risk or that it is too difficult to do anything about it.
“Our message to them is that you are a target for cybercriminals and you need to take action to protect your business. That’s why I’m launching a £25,000 Cyber Protection for Businesses Voucher Scheme that will let micro businesses get a free external assessment of their IT security and information management systems. This Cyber Basics Review will help business owners understand where they are currently vulnerable and how they can better protect their systems.”
Terry Hone, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “Small and medium businesses are more at risk from cyber-criminals that they realise and many are worryingly unprepared. We want to make sure that business owners know that their business is a target and that they need to take the threat seriously. The programme set out in this strategy will help businesses understand the risk and what action they need to take to keep their business safe from cyber-crime.”
Professor Andy Jones, Director of the Cyber Security Centre at the University of Hertfordshire said: “We have worked with Hertfordshire Police since the Centre was created and welcome the opportunity to be a part of the launch of the new strategy to continue our work preventing cyber-criminals targeting local businesses and retailers.
“At the University of Hertfordshire we have developed the infrastructure to support the local business community in information security through research into security issues, through the provision of a range of security services, through outreach to local groups and through the education and training of future employees. Our School of Computer Science is one of the largest and most established departments in the UK and is focused on working with students to develop tools and techniques capable of detecting and responding to a variety of cyber based attacks, including the collection of digital forensic evidence.”
Detective Inspector Marcus Bromley from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit said: “Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing issues that police forces across the country are currently dealing with. It costs the local economy and businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds every year and in many cases, simple crime prevention advice can help to prevent most cyber-attacks on business networks. This is a great initiative, which aims to deliver specialist cybercrime advice and relevant preventative measures businesses can take to protect their systems, which will benefit the businesses themselves and their customers and employees.”