Government SME Cyber Defence Scheme Goes Live

New Cyber Defence Programme Unveiled

06.06.2014

Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

A new government-managed award to help businesses showcase their ability to combat cyber threats has been unveiled.

The scheme, which went live yesterday (June 5th), will allow firms to tell consumers they are protecting their private details by meeting a number of prerequisite benchmarks.

This will be managed through a two step system, allowing companies to be graded as compliant to Cyber Essentials level, or Cyber Essentials Plus. The lower of these two tiers will be priced for SME budgets and is more cost-effective.

David Willetts, universities and science minister, hailed the start of the programme, stating that the recent Crypto Locker and GO ZeuS attacks show how important it is that the private sector stays on top of threats.

"We already spend more online than any other major country in the world, and this is in no small part because Britain is already a world leader in cybersecurity," Mr Willetts explained.

"Developing this new scheme will give consumers further confidence that business and government have defences in place to protect against the most common cyber threats."

These views were shared by Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Business national policy chairman, who said that his organisation's research has shown that cyber crime costs SMEs £800 million per year.

The government also revealed that from October 1st 2014, public sector officials will require all suppliers bidding for certain personal and sensitive information handling contracts to be Cyber Essentials certified.

According to the coalition, this will enhance information and data protection for the government and improve the chances of avoiding a potentially harmful cyber attack from an activist, crime syndicate or terrorist group.
The government has been keen to emphasise the need for businesses to be proactive in facing down cyber security threats in recent weeks.

Although the effort has been ongoing for a number of years, a number of recent high profile hacks involving eBay and Tumblr has left ministers worried about the financial impact similar incidents could have on UK companies.

Expert Opinion
Consideration of cyber security is now an absolute requisite for a huge majority of businesses, with many embracing online tools and services in order to boost their visibility and provide support to their clients and customers.

"The loss of key data or data protection issues can have a major impact on organisations, leading to both significant reputational harm and potential fines due to non-compliance with key regulations.

"We would urge small businesses to recognise the huge importance of this issue and encourage them, if they have any concerns, to seek legal advice on their responsibilities. With the Government placing an emphasis on using suppliers which meet this new award, failure to pay attention to this issue could have major consequences on growing firms."
Fergal Dowling, Partner