New Lancaster University programme will enable businesses to get ahead on cyber security

A new programme has been launched to equip SME leaders to protect their businesses against cyber attacks – and avoid the potentially devastating outcomes of a data breach.

The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022 found some 39 per cent of UK small businesses and 30 per cent of charities had identified at least one breach or attack in the previous 12 months. Globally, there are an estimated 65,000 attempted cyber attacks on SMEs every day. A recent report estimated that each cyber breach costs SMEs around £11,000, with attacks forcing around 60 per cent of small businesses to close within six months. A consistent lesson has been the importance of staff vigilance given that the vast majority of breaches come via workers’ user accounts.

Delivered by Lancaster University’s globally-renowned Management School and world class School of Computing and Communications, the Cyber Strategy Programme will enable SMEs to address challenges around digital attacks, including managing threats and risks and developing new ways of working including boosting leadership capability and capacity and creating solutions through innovation.

Dr Rebecca Robinson, Business Support and Project Manager in the School of Computing and Communications, said: “As a leading institution in cyber security, Lancaster University is already nationally and internationally synonymous with research excellence, teaching and engagement as cyber emerges as the next domain in global defence strategies – enabling ongoing prosperity in increasingly uncertain times.

“The University was described as “pivotal” in plans to locate the new National Cyber Force headquarters in nearby Samlesbury – estimated to be worth around £5bn to the local economy – and forms an important part of the new North West Cyber Corridor.

“In parallel to that, we are one of the leading institutions in the country offering support for the SME community and have over 20 years of experience delivering programmes in this region.

“Even if you outsource your cyber security management, as a senior leader you need to understand directly what the risks are and how you can minimise the attack potential, so you can ensure all that can be done is being done.

“Unless you make being cyber aware and cyber secure a priority, nobody in your business will and this leaves your systems vulnerable.”

Lancaster University’s approach to cyber security is to tackle challenges in a holistic way which goes beyond creating the technological solutions. By bringing together experts from a variety of academic disciplines, the institution examines the sociological, psychological, economic, political and technological aspects of cyber security. This approach draws upon the unique expertise of Lancaster researchers and offers more robust solutions to the threats faced by the UK in the 21st Century.

Helen Wilkinson, Knowledge Exchange Development Manager for Lancaster University Management School, said: “As a business owner or leader, you cannot afford to treat security as an afterthought if you want to successfully prevent cyber attacks.

“You need to set a culture of vigilance and excellence around cyber protection and ensure you have the right systems in place and staff who are thoroughly trained to spot the threats and apply the right security practices at the right time.

“Our new programme will transform business leaders’ understanding of cyber risk and threats and the solutions to mitigate attacks. It will enhance leadership capabilities and provide the tools to bring teams on board and to embed a robust culture of cyber excellence across all operations. Leaders will be empowered to embed the resilience required for businesses to continue to grow and thrive.”

The programme will be delivered over a five-month period, beginning on 16 November. This will include an induction session, a number of practical workshops and masterclasses, a company sprint project and a final action planning session in March. Sessions will be highly interactive, including real life case studies and demonstrations of hacking attacks to build leaders’ knowledge and awareness of the risk environment and potential challenges for businesses.

Delegates will also benefit from discussions with leading cyber and leadership experts, a toolkit of resources they can draw upon in the future as their business continues to evolve plus, and perhaps most importantly, peer-to-peer support from other business leaders in the area.

Places are fully-funded for eligible businesses via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

For more details and to apply, please visit www.lancaster.ac.uk/cyber-strategy-programme

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