Businesses and social enterprises across the Highlands and Islands fearing on-line cyber attacks are being offered jargon-free, expert advice.
The Cyber Strong Business programme, introduced by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) last year, is back with a second series of workshops, one-to-one consultations, and a Cyber Café in venues across the region.
This is being run in collaboration with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), The Scottish Government and Business Gateway.
The Cyber Strong Business project hopes to reach businesses, social enterprises and communities interested in taking the first steps in protecting themselves and their clients when online.
The project, which will tour locations across the until March, was launched on Wednesday September 12 at #hellodigital in An Lochran at the Inverness Campus.
Theresa Swayne, Senior Digital Economy Manager at HIE said: “Businesses know there are cyber security risks for anyone who is online - getting started in addressing those risks can be daunting.
“Cyber Strong Business will offer an experienced team of advisers who can explain simple measures to reduce cyber threats or to resolve attacks if they happen.
“We will share trusted resources and tips, through our partners NCSC, The Scottish Government, Business Gateway and Police Scotland and can signpost to other support that may help.”
A list of locations confirmed so far includes Stornoway, Kirkwall, Linaclete, Thurso, Golspie, Elgin and Inverary.
An NCSC spokesperson said: “There’s around a one-in-two chance that an SME will suffer a cyber breach.
“That can have a huge impact on the business and livelihood of the people involved in it. And, when you consider the economic importance of SMEs to the UK, it is not good news for the country as a whole.
“While staying secure might seem daunting, it no longer needs to be. We can provide you with advice that is simple and low cost, allowing you to protect yourselves against the majority of threats.”
‘CyberBus’, originally part of a Scottish Government cyber education pilot, will also be touring parts of the region for the first time. The customised programme has worked with a wide range of people so far including schools and community groups.
Dr Martin Beaton, Cyber Security Cluster Co-ordinator for Scotland, said: “Our cyberBus sessions allow participants to take on the role of cyber victim and attacker to experience how phishing and other techniques happen.
“They can see the full lifecycle of a cyber attack, helping them to spot and better understand how to protect themselves. We’re looking forward to bringing this practical approach to SMEs across the Highlands and Islands as part of the Cyber Strong programme.”
Brian Currie, Business Gateway’s DigitalBoost programme manager, said: “Recent Business Gateway research shows that more than half of SMEs manage their own IT, and while they recognise the need for basic controls, many do underestimate the risks they face.
"We’ve developed a range of online tools which can help businesses with cyber basics. Cyber Strong’s hands-on advice and support will be valuable to SMEs across the region.”
Events can be booked at http://hellodigital.scot/events/
25th September Stornoway, HIE Area Office Cyber Masterclass
26 September Fort William Cyber Masterclass
27th September Benbecula, HIE Area Office Cyber Masterclass
27th September Portree Cyber Masterclass
3rd October #hellodigital, Inverness Cyber Masterclass
4th October Ullapool Cyber Masterclass
8th October Kirkwall, Orkney Cyber Masterclass
9th October Thurso, HIE Area Office Cyber Masterclass
10th October Golspie, HIE Area Office Cyber Masterclass
11th October Stornoway, HIE Area Office cyberBus/Café
16th October #hellodigital, Inverness cyberBus
23rd October Thurso, HIE Area Office cyberBus
23rd October Golspie Cyber Café
24th October Golspie cyberBus/Café
25th October Inverary, Loch Fyne Hotel, Argyll Cyber Masterclass
1st/2nd November Shetland Cyber Masterclass
6th November Benbecula cyberBus
7th November Moray Business Week TBC Cyber Masterclass
Photo, from left: Steven Hutcheon HIE Head of Technology and Advanced Engineering; Mandy Haeburn-Little, CEO Scottish Business Resilience Centre; Dr Martin Beaton, Cyber Security Cluster Co-ordinator for Scotland; Theresa Swayne HIE Senior Development Manager (Digital Economy); and Brian Currie Business Gateway DigitalBoost Programme Manager.