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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

UK Home Office engages in cyber awareness campaign

24 June, 2013
Aimed at educating businesses in the country on the risk of cyber threats, the UK Government campaign provokes mixed industry reaction


The campaign was launched last week by the home office inviting stakeholders to bid for a chance to work on educating businesses on the risks of cyber crime and prevent their customers from falling victing to phishing attacks and other online criminal activity.



The news of the 4 million pound campaign provoked generally positive feedback from industry participants but the amount was nonetheless criticized for being less than is needed.



According to Ashish Patel, the regional director at Stonesoft, “Recent high profile attacks against a whole range of media and financial institutions show many businesses are still not wise to hacker threats. As threats evolve and become more complex, employees within businesses of all sizes need to start practising and developing basic cyber awareness as a minimum".



“£4million isn’t a paltry sum, and the British government needs to promote the fact it is doing everything possible to develop a safe trading and business environment to encourage investment. Security is a key factor in this, and the popularisation of basic knowledge regarding cybercrime and safety issues amongst the whole nation is imperative for this to ultimately succeed.”



Arbor Networks is behind the campaign, stating that smaller businesses particularly are at risk due to their belief that they won't become victims. Darren Anstee explained: “Most SMEs probably think they’re not at risk from cyber-attack because they consider themselves to be under the radar of cyber criminals, but in truth any business operating online – which means just about any type and size of organisation – can become a target.  These days an organisation can be targeted because of the market it operates in, what it sells, who its’ customers are or who it is affiliated with.  And, the motivations behind attacks are now very broad – from ideological hacktivism through to competitive take-out -  so it’s very difficult to assess when / if an organisation might be attacked.  Also, the explosion of inexpensive and readily-accessible attack tools, malware toolkits and DDoS ‘services’  means that pretty much anyone can carry out an attack, if they want to.



“Every company that relies on the availability of their Internet connectivity to do business, whether to sell products, offer services or access cloud based data / applications, should be looking at assessing the impact a successful attack could have to their business and deploying appropriate solutions to mitigate this growing risk.”



Mark James, a business malware expert at ESET also makes the point about SMEs, being more vulnerable than their larger counterparts due to having smaller amounts of resources at their disposal.



“SMEs form the backbone of the UK economy and without the resources always available to larger enterprises basic cracks in security measures can appear. When breaches in security can cripple a company in terms of both financial and reputational damage, it’s encouraging to see the government taking a lead in helping businesses build up resistance to threats by equipping them with the skills and confidence to adequately educate staff on the ways to spot malware and hacker threats.”


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