22 September, 2015

Belfast based cyber security firm, Cyphra has called on Northern Ireland’s business leaders and policy makers to ensure that they view cyber security as a board room priority and not just an IT issue.

Belfast based cyber security firm, Cyphra has called on Northern Ireland’s business leaders and policy makers to ensure that they view cyber security as a board room priority and not just an IT issue. Many larger organisations understand and manage the direct cyber threats they face but fail to recognise the indirect threats via their supply chains. Increasingly more vulnerable SMEs involved in public and private sector supply chains are being targeted as a route to gain access and compromise the organisations they supply.

The Cyphra leadership event brought together senior business figures, public officials and policy-makers (Monday 21st in Ten Square and Tuesday 22nd Senate Room, Stormont). It provided an update on the realities of the global and local cyber threats, the changes in cyber law and best practice strategies to gain assurance over supply chains.

‘Cyber Essentials’ is a new scheme to make cyber hygiene part of everyday business and is being spearheaded in Northern Ireland by the specialist cyber security firm Cyphra. The Cyber Essentials initiative was developed as part of UK Government’s National Cyber Security Strategy and has already been mandated by other regions as a pre-requisite for certain Government procurements.

Speaking at the event Conrad Simpson, a Director for Cyphra, emphasised that a few simple steps can significantly reduce the risk.

“The impact of cyber-attacks can be reduced by as much as 80% if businesses address the security controls defined in Cyber Essentials. The scheme provides simple, affordable steps for SMEs to reduce the likelihood that their organisation will experience a security breach with its associated financial and reputational impacts. The Cyber Essentials certification provides an independent assessment of cyber security controls and will demonstrate to investors, customers and insurers that your business is proactively managing the digital risks. It can also provide a competitive advantage by ensuring your business has the appropriate credentials to meet the requirements of supply chain procurements.”

Speaking about the risk to the Northern Ireland economy, government and businesses, the Detective Chief Inspector, Dougie Grant, who leads the PSNI’s Cyber Crime Centre said:

“The risks posed by cyber criminals are enormous – theft of money and data from corporate and customer accounts, disrupted services, sabotaged IT systems and damaged reputations. The most serious attacks can be catastrophic and mean that a company’s very existence is threatened. In Northern Ireland we are seeing daily attacks against local business and industry but we have the tools to prevent attacks and keep business and industry safe.”

The 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey (2015) carried out by the HM Government reported that 74% of small businesses in the UK had a security breach and 38% of small businesses were attacked by an unauthorised outsider. The cost to a small business of its worst security breach can range from £75,000 to almost £300,000.

Leading corporate law firm A&L Goodbody further supported the event by offering advice on legal, regulatory and governance obligations to reduce cyber risk as well as providing best practice steps to take should a breach occur. A&L Goodbody’s Belfast-based IP & Technology Partner Ivan Waide said,

“Our firm’s cross disciplinary team helps companies navigate and comply with the evolving legal and regulatory landscape. In a recent Cyber Risk study carried out by A&L Goodbody it was found that less than a third of businesses believe they are fully prepared to deal with a cyber-attack. The Cyber Essentials initiative is an excellent opportunity not only to enhance the cyber security resilience of local SMEs, but also to help make Northern Ireland even more attractive for inward investors.”

Cyphra has extensive experience in delivering cyber security projects across the UK and Ireland for a wide range of public sector, finance and private sector clients. They are the only Cyber Essentials Certification Body in Northern Ireland and offer a range of cyber security services and solutions. Cyber Essentials is supported across the UK by CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses.