Hacking For All The Right Reasons

by Chris Fairbairn

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

PR in Edinburgh Ethical HackingA crack team of young ‘ethical’ hackers have been recruited to lead Scotland’s battle against cyber crime.

In an innovative tie-up with the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), the computer experts will provide crucial, affordable services to protect companies – particularly vulnerable small firms – from e-criminals and scammers.

A recent survey by PriceWaterhouseCooper, revealed that 90 per cent of larger organisations and 74 per cent of smaller businesses suffered a cyber attack last year, with an average cost per breach at larger organisations of near to £1.5m.

Cyber crime can take many forms include theft, fraud, selling sensitive company data and sabotaging equipment.

The role of hackers and their ability to seek and secure confidential information has been highlighted in blockbuster movies, such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the recent hack of US Government workers.

The SBRC ‘ethical hackers’ go into a business with good intentions to conduct Cyber Assessments, highlighting where security breaches could happen or weaknesses in networks, passwords and privacy settings and recommending changes.

The assessment can vary from a cyber footprint review which assesses what information is available online about a business or an individual and how that can be better managed, to a full online security test which looks to identify the risk of unauthorised intrusion from an external or internal source. The footprint service, for an individual can start from as little as £200.

Other cyber assessments can be done to test the robustness of a business’s supply chain, assessing how secure suppliers and sub-contractors are from e-crime.

In 2006 Dundee’s Abertay University became the first in the country to offer a dedicated Bachelor of Science course in ‘Ethical hacking and Countermeasures’.

Oren Benshabat, 22, who graduates from the course in June and has joined SBRC along with four course-mates, said: “It can be quite startling to company bosses when after just one morning ‘hacking’ their network, we can provide them with highly confidential data that would be extremely damaging in the wrong hands.

It always gets a shock reaction. The reassuring thing is that we are the ‘techy good guys’ and by following our recommended actions they ensure that they are doing to upmost to protect themselves from cyber crime.”

SBRC Director, Mandy Haeburn-Little, said as the Scottish Government and Police Scotland’s business resilience delivery arm, they have been tasked with delivering the cyber resilience strategy to help equip SMEs with the tools and knowledge to combat e-crime.

She said: “We have been working with digital forensic students and ethical hackers for some time now – it is another example of trying to find low cost, yet excellent quality solutions for small to medium sized businesses to keep them safe online. They are state of the art in terms of new learning in this field and really creative in their approach to supporting business.

We want the 341,000 SME’s that make up the backbone of the Scottish economy to know that help in the fight against cyber crime is available.

Our ethical hackers offer businesses cutting-edge cyber resilience advice at extremely competitive prices. We know that smaller firms are more likely to be a victim of cyber crime as they don’t invest in computer security. That’s why we have looked to make the costs of these services so affordable compared to what is available in the commercial sector.

I’d urge businesses to speak to us about how we can help them. To put it bluntly; this service could prevent a future data breach capable of putting them out of business or even put their safety of their staff at risk.”

Oren added: “Our work to date has shown that there are amazing results we can provide to businesses.

The other hackers and I are keen to be put to the test by all sorts of businesses to show good can beat evil when it comes to cyber crime.”

Last year, the Scottish Government gave a commitment in Programme for Government to develop and bring forward a cyber-resilience strategy that will take a positive approach to developing cyber resilience in Scotland, for the benefit of people and the Scottish economy.

A newly launched consultation; A Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland: Safe, Secure and Prosperous Online seeks to gather views on what can be done to raise awareness and increase resilience online.

The consultation form can be downloaded from: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Cyber-resilience-consultation-1992.aspx

For more information on the cyber assessment services, visit www.sbrc.co.uk.

Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood PR. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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