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Government to give £5,000 cyber security boost to SMEs

The UK government has announced initiatives aimed at boosting SME cyber security, promoting the cyber security profession and supporting cyber security innovation projects

The government has unveiled a new £1m scheme to help micro and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK to protect themselves from cyber attacks.

The voucher scheme is set to launch later this month, digital economy minister Ed Vaizey told the Reform cyber security resilience, assurance and response conference in London.

The initiative, which is part of a package of initiatives designed to increase the resilience of UK businesses to cyber attacks, will offer SMEs up to £5,000 for specialist advice on how to improve their cyber security and protection for intellectual property (IP).

According to the 2015 Information security breaches survey, 74% of small businesses had a security breach in the past year that cost the company between £75,200 and £310,800.

The voucher scheme will be overseen by government experts at Innovate UK, and will help firms to access services from the UK cyber security industry and adopt the government’s Cyber Essentials Scheme (CES).

The package also includes an online learning and careers hub to help ensure the UK has the cyber skills talent pool to protect both the public and private sectors in the face of increasing cyber threats.

“We want to help protect UK businesses against cyber attacks and make the UK the safest place in world to do business online,” said Vaizey. "The new voucher scheme will offer increased protection for small businesses, and the new online hub will help ensure we have the skilled workforce in place to manage the increased pressures of the digital age."

Innovate UK director of technology and innovation Kevin Baughan said cyber security is critical because the economy is increasingly underpinned by digital infrastructure.

“The schemes announced today will give cyber confidence for businesses and consumers, and will help our digital economy to flourish. The UK now has the opportunity to become a world leader in cyber security, creating the jobs of tomorrow and driving productivity and growth,” he said.

Tackling the cyber security skills shortage

According to the government, the UK cyber security industry is worth £17.6bn and employs more than 40,000 people, but more skilled people are needed to help protect the nation as the UK goes digital and adopts new technologies.  

The newly launched Inspired Careers online skills and career hub was developed by security testing industry body Crest and the government to tackle the skills shortage in cyber security.

“This is an important development which supports the government’s commitment to encouraging more young people to develop cyber security skills, along with those looking for an exciting and challenging career change,” said Vaizey.

“Increasing the cyber skills talent pool is essential for both the public and private sectors as we face the reality of increasing cyber threats. The UK has a proud heritage in cryptography and computer science, and is at the forefront of today’s battle against the cyber criminals, but there is still more to do if we are to stay ahead,” he added.

The hub features careers information and advice, internship and apprenticeship opportunities, academic and professional training courses, work experience and senior level vacancies, and is designed to promote the cyber security profession and encourage the next generation of cyber specialists to help protect the UK. Publicising entry level jobs or work-based training vacancies on Inspired Careers is free of charge.

Crest president Ian Glover said the main aim of Inspired Careers is to encourage talented people into the industry, either straight from education or from other industries, as well as to help nurture and harness existing skills.

“Crest is proud to be involved with the initiative because it will help to address the problem of attracting and retaining the brightest young people into careers that have traditionally had an image problem, and demonstrates that there is a strong career path once in the industry,” he said.

Also announced was a Cyber Security Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) fund worth £500,000 from the department of culture media and sport (DCMS) and Innovate UK.

The fund, which is expected to support around 12 projects, will provide grants to encourage partnerships between academic institutions and cyber security companies to support innovation and to help the businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity. 

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