Voucher and Learning Hub Boost for Small Business Cyber Security

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey has announced a £1m government scheme to help SMEs protect themselves against cyber attack, while a new online hub is set to produce the cyber security experts of the future.

A Helping Hand for Those Who Need It Most

Why are smaller businesses in particular receiving this boost? Because there’s a strong consensus among cyber security professionals that small and medium businesses are at greater risk of cyber attack and security breaches – both because they are seen as an easy target, and because in reality, they often are.

Phil Jones, Barclaycard Payment Security Manager and co-chair of the PCI Security Standards Council’s Small Merchant Taskforce, has said smaller businesses are “particularly vulnerable to attack from hackers” because they “usually have very limited resources and technical expertise at their disposal.”

The 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey stated that 74% of small businesses had a security breach that could cost the company anything from £75,200 to £310,800.

There are also growing concerns that insufficient numbers of cyber security experts are being trained or recruited.

Specialist Security Advice

The new voucher scheme was announced at the Reform “Cyber Security: Assurance, Resilience, Response” conference in London, where Ed Vaizey explained that the vouchers scheme will offer micro, small and medium sized businesses up to £5,000 for specialist advice to boost their cyber security and protect both new business ideas and intellectual property. The vouchers are just part of the National Cyber Security Programme, which is investing £860m between 2011 and 2016 to protect and enhance the UK in cyber space, and this includes making UK businesses more resilient to cyber-attacks.

A new online cyber skills hub, www.inspiredcareers.org, has also been launched, developed with the Government by industry body CREST. The site includes careers information and advice, internship and apprenticeship opportunities, academic and professional training courses, work experience and senior level vacancies.

“We want to help protect UK businesses against cyber attack and make the UK safest place in world to do business online,” said Mr. Vaizey. “The new voucher scheme will offer increased protection for small businesses, and the new online hub will help ensure we have the skilled workforce in place to manage the increased pressures of the digital age.”

The vouchers will also enable firms to access services from the UK cyber security industry and help them adopt Cyber Essentials, the Government’s flagship scheme to protect businesses online.

Expert Oversight

The scheme will be overseen by the Government’s innovation experts at Innovate UK. Innovate UK’s Director of Technology and Innovation, Kevin Baughan, believes the voucher scheme and the learning hub “will give cyber-confidence for businesses and consumers and will help our digital economy to flourish.”

The UK cyber security industry is worth £17.6bn and employs over 40,000 people, but the Government predicts that more skilled people are needed in both private and public sectors as the UK goes increasingly digital and adopts new technologies.

“The UK’s economy is increasingly underpinned by digital infrastructure, so cyber security is now a critical component,” said Mr. Baughan. “The UK now has the opportunity to become a world leader in cyber security, creating the jobs of tomorrow and driving productivity and growth.”

New Cyber Security Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) were also announced. The Cyber KTP fund, worth £500,000, is jointly funded by DCMS and Innovate UK and will provide grants to encourage partnerships between academic institutions and cyber security companies to support innovation and help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity.

Want to know more? Details about both the KTPs and Cyber Security Innovation Vouchers can be found on the Innovate UK website, and the Government has produced a useful guide to cyber security for small businesses.