Government announces scheme to allow SMEs to bid for up to £5,000 from a £500,000 pot to improve their cyber security by bringing in outside expertise.
It will come as no huge surprise that every business today, irrelevant of market sector is facing a common threat; Cyber Security.
Cyber security is undoubtedly a risk for businesses of all sizes, but of key concern is the small to medium business (SMEs) who often don’t have the expertise or funds to being to understand let-alone manage the risk.
Cyber security is about protecting your computer-based equipment and information from unintended or unauthorised access, change or destruction. So when businesses tell me they’re not interested, concerned or have any opinions on Cyber Security I suspect they don’t truly understand what it is.
Recent research sponsored by the UK Government has shown the average cost of the worst security breach for small organisations was £35,000 to £65,000 for a single incident.(As you’d expect it’s far higher for larger organisations, reaching as high as £850,000). These costs include the cost of investigating, compensation, fines and of course fixing the issue. What is more difficult to evaluate is the impact on the reputation and the costs involved in regaining the trust of not only customers and clients but that of staff too.
The same survey has shown that as many as 87% of SMEs have experienced a Security breach of some kind which is hardly surprising when you consider that 42% also stated that they didn’t raise awareness or carryout any form of educating their staff about Security.
I find this all very worrying and as we all become more and more reliant upon computers and ‘cyber-space’ I am keen to help anyone who is willing to learn, willing to listen and more importantly willing to take action in managing Information Security aka Cyber Security.
Help is available
But there is help out there, not only from Agenci but the Government has recognised that SMEs need to get their house in order and through the Technology Strategy Board have extended its Innovation Vouchers scheme to allow SMEs to bid for up to £5,000 from a £500,000 pot to improve their cyber security by bringing in outside expertise.
The Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts stated that “Keeping electronic information safe and secure is vital to a business’s bottom line. Companies are more at risk than ever of having their cyber security compromised, in particular small businesses, and no sector is immune from attack.”
So there is some good news. Businesses who take Cyber Security (and Information Security) seriously can reduce the threat of attack by as much as 80% by implementing simple measures and controls such as ensuring mobile devices are encrypted or have passwords, training staff not to open suspicious-looking emails or click on links or attachments.
There are of course many more simple and straightforward controls that can be put in place – but the first step is understanding what your issues are and where the threats may come from and this is why the Government funding is so important and so timely.
With threats becoming ever more complex and persistent every business has a duty of care for the information they hold. This is YOUR information. This is YOUR privacy and businesses can use the funding available to ensure that the electronic information we all rely upon so much, stays safe.
Agenci have already worked with a company who have received the funding and we are looking forward to working with others who are bidding for this funding and to be in with a chance of receiving the money you need to meet the following criteria;
- you need to be a start-up, micro, small or medium-sized business operating in the UK (less than 250 employees)
- your business should not have received more than €200k (c.£165k) of public support in total in the last three financial years
- your idea must be applicable to one of the priority themes
- the idea that you want help with should be a challenge for your business that requires specialist assistance
- you should not have received an Innovation Voucher from the Technology Strategy Board before
- If you receive an Innovation Voucher, it should be the first time that you have worked with your chosen knowledge supplier.
In addition to the eligibility criteria, if you are successful in receiving an Innovation Voucher, you will need to
- pay any VAT incurred on the services you use with the voucher (TSB does not cover the VAT)
- have a business bank account into which your claim can be paid
The cycle of these vouchers being allocated is a rolling three period (with 100 vouchers being made each time). The next allocation of vouchers will be made available on 24th July 2013 so you have some time to begin the process of ensuring you meet the criteria above.
This blog, published by Agenci on April 30th 2013.
This information has been added for the benfit of viewers. There is no commercial or other connection between the ICPEM and Agenci, and this idoes not imply recommendation of their services