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.