Members from Devon and Cornwall Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez and the south west’s business community came together at an event at the Exeter Science Park on Tuesday 6th December, as the region takes a major step forward in the fight against cyber-crime.
Organised by the South West Cyber Security Cluster (SWCSC) alongside Devon and Cornwall Police, the event saw a range of business people and representatives gather together to discuss prevention techniques and cyber security regulations, with a keynote speech from Alison Hernandez, Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner.
In an effort to raise awareness of the issue that is costing south west businesses millions of pounds each year, Alison introduced the SWCSC and explained her role in the region’s cyber security landscape through supporting local individuals and businesses to stay safe online.
Members of the SWCSC spoke about the key methods that businesses can use to mitigate or respond to online threats and fraud, the regulatory imperatives and shared best practice methods.
Chair of the SWCSC based at Science Park, Roz Woodward explains: “The aim of the Cluster is and has always been to raise cyber security awareness and best practice. It’s not about scaring people, it’s about arming them with the knowledge they need to better protect themselves.
She continued: “We know that 74% of businesses and 90% of major businesses had a cyber security breach in the past year. We can’t eradicate the threat, but there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of becoming victim to online crime and attendees at the event have gone away with ideas that can be implemented at any business to reduce threat levels.”
The Cluster, based at the Exeter Science Park Centre, is made up of specialists from the south west working in the field of cyber security. As a not-for-profit organisation, the sole aim of the Cluster is to support businesses and prevent cyber-crime in the region.
The SWCSC was founded in February 2015 and is a unique collaboration setup to raise awareness of cyber threats, offering free advice and support to businesses to protect themselves from cyber threats such as hackers and online fraud. The Cluster is part of the UK Cyber Security Forum, a national initiative set up to connect cyber security firms working across the UK.
Devon and Cornwall Police are officially supporting the Cluster along with the University of Exeter, Plymouth University and the Devon and Cornwall Business Council.
Roz added: “High profile hacks such as TalkTalk, Yahoo and Three Mobile have helped to bring cyber security to the forefront of people’s minds, but often, businesses aren’t aware of the changes they can make to improve security or who to approach for independent help. Hosting this cyber-security event was the first step in gathering the regions experts and setting the south west as a leading location in cyber security awareness, practice and expertise. We will continue to host regular events and offer online advice and one-to-ones with any businesses needing some extra advice. All of our services will be free and impartial.”
Devon and Cornwall Police Crime Reduction Team Leader Bob Bunney explained the Police force’s role in the Cluster and its cyber-crime prevention work.
Bob said: “Devon and Cornwall Police support the South West Cyber Security Cluster in contributing to the National Cyber Security Strategy which sets out a plan to make Britain confident, capable and resilient in a fast-moving digital world.
“Cyber-crime is a very serious and real threat to businesses worldwide. We are hearing more and more about ‘cyber attacks’ that lead to financial or credibility loss, which is why it’s so important that we ensure businesses are aware of the threat landscape and fully equipped to manage these ‘attacks’. The cyber-security conference was an excellent opportunity and has already led to requests from local businesses for help and advice which we welcome. The event has helped us and the Cluster reach out to local businesses and raise awareness of the potential pitfalls that faces all of us when we use technology and the internet.”