A pilot cyber security support and advice service aimed at small businesses has been set up by Nominet, the non-profit Internet company best known for running the .uk internet infrastructure.
Due to launch in the summer, the three-month pilot called Nominet Cyber Assist will research whether an independent and authoritative advice service could effectively help businesses detect and combat cyber crime.
While cyber security issues have long been a concern for larger businesses, the increasing reliance on the internet means that small businesses are now vulnerable to the same threats. A survey conducted by Nominet found that over three quarters (77%) of small businesses with 50 or fewer employees have faced at least one cyber security incident in the last month alone, and that on average, incidents took several hours to resolve with 40% taking a day or longer. One in five small businesses said that they had lost money as a result.
When cyber security issues arise, small businesses often don't know who to turn to for help. In 45% of cases, problems are solved either by the business owner in isolation, or with the help of a personal friend or non-technical member of staff. This figure rises to 61% within micro-businesses (those with five employees or less).
Given the sophisticated, technical nature of most cyber security threats, small businesses who take on issues alone are risking further downtime and lost revenue. Even standard IT support - whether internal or external - may not have the expertise to identify and resolve the latest emerging threats, while vendor-based support from anti-virus or other security providers is often restricted to certain products or areas.
Nominet has set up a dedicated team that can deliver the first single, independent, trusted source of cyber security specific information and support for small firms.
The pilot aims to reflect the diverse profile of UK small businesses by inviting 1,000 businesses across different sectors to take part. It will offer them free access to easy- to-understand advice on protecting your business, as well as help with identifying problems and support to troubleshoot and fix problems. The pilot's website with information, guides and FAQs will be a first point of call for any cyber security problems, with telephone and email support available too.
This announcement is part of an ongoing programme of security initiatives being developed by Nominet working closely with a number of partners including the Cabinet Office and the National Cyber Security Programme.
"The bedrock of a secure business is taking sensible precautions," commented Nominet's CTO, Simon McCalla. "But small businesses' main focus is being great at what they do, so we understand that they can be very stretched when it comes to dedicating time to cyber security.
"Nominet already plays a critical role in providing a trusted online home for millions of British businesses and we're delighted to be offering help and assistance to small businesses who often struggle with the challenges of staying up to date and protected against the latest cyber threats. While larger businesses are well-resourced, this pilot will be exploring whether a dedicated service and tailored advice will help smaller companies that might otherwise be in danger of getting left behind."