A group of Exeter businesses have joined forces to raise awareness of the importance of tackling cyber attacks.
The aim is to make Exeter Britain’s first Cyber City, with a week of events being held next month to educate businesses as about how to prevent being hacked and what steps to take after a cyber attack – currently the UK’s fastest growing type of crime.
Cyber Security Awareness Week, starting on Monday, February 6, will feature a series of workshops, talks and one-to-one sessions in venues around the city.
Among the demonstrations will be a ‘live’ ransomware attack, showing just how quickly it can happen along with steps to recover data.
There will be education sessions on a whole range of technical solutions, plus advice on insurance, banking, intellectual property and PR recovery, all tailored to the needs of the business community. Those attending will even be shown a live map of the world showing attacks in progress.
The sessions will be free to attend and every delegate will be offered one TB of secure cloud storage.
Leading the event are Exeter-based Bluegrass Group. Chairman David Thomas said despite regular news stories about hacking, he has been shocked by the ‘head in the sand’ attitude of many leaders and senior managers.
According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 2.5 million cyber attacks on businesses in 2015 involving theft of money, data or file encryption only freed up on payment of a ransom. Yet seven out of 10 small or medium sized businesses have yet to take any action to protect themselves.
“The emphasis of Cyber Security Awareness Week will be very much focused on protection and prevention,” said Mr Thomas.
“Exeter, being one of the UK’s most popular and forward thinking cities, is the perfect place to launch the fightback and we’ve been delighted at how many city businesses have been keen to pitch in with help to get this inaugural event up and running.”
The Government has recognized the size and extent of the problem by pledging £2 billion but most of this cash will be spent protecting the UK’s electrical grid and airports, with a small amount being spent on training cyber security experts.
Cyber Security Awareness Week will include breakfast briefings every morning with speakers from Bluegrass Computer Services, disaster recovery experts Datto and specialist business insurers Northcott Beaton.
Companies will be able to book one-to-one sessions to discuss their particular needs. Speakers will include representatives from the South West Cyber Crime Unit, Microsoft, solicitors Stephens Scown, Lloyds Bank, Datto, Bluegrass Group and Astley Media.
On the final day, there will be a breakfast briefing at the Exeter Cookery School and a lunchtime networking event at Hanlons Brewery.
Devon and Cornwall Business Council’s chief executive Ben Rhodes has praised the initiative, saying that their research showed that cyber crime can have significant impacts on businesses and individuals, yet relatively simple steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of being a victim.
He said: “Cyber crime will continue to be a huge threat to communities across Devon and Cornwall, significantly impacting upon productivity. I look forward to supporting Cyber Security Awareness Week and attending these events, as it is crucial that these messages are shared.”