The next stage of the government's Cyber Security Strategy will see £4 million ploughed into a public awareness campaign.
Coming from the £650 million fund that was agreed as part of the strategy, the campaign to raise awareness of how to stay safe online will be led by the Home Office and draw on expertise from the Cabinet Office, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and partners from the business sector, including Get Safe Online.
Launching the initiative this week, security minister James Brokenshire said: “The digitisation of the UK economy has made our lives easier and has created huge opportunities, but it has also created individual security risks as well. If we are to meet these new challenges it's essential we step up our efforts to stay safe online.
“The threat of cyber crime is real and the criminals involved are organised and driven by profit. By making small changes British businesses can remain competitive in the global economy and consumers can have greater confidence using the internet.”
The Home Office is inviting bids from media, PR and creative agencies to work on the campaign with the aim of educating consumers and small businesses on how to avoid falling victim to sophisticated cyber criminals.
Mark James, technical director of Eset UK, said: “SMEs form the backbone of the UK economy and without the resources always available to larger enterprises basic cracks in security measures can appear. When breaches in security can cripple a company in terms of both financial and reputational damage, it's encouraging to see the government taking a lead in helping businesses build up resistance to threats by equipping them with the skills and confidence to adequately educate staff on the ways to spot malware and hacker threats.”
Ashish Patel, regional director UK & Ireland of Stonesoft, said: “£4 million isn't a paltry sum, and the British government needs to promote the fact it is doing everything possible to develop a safe trading and business environment to encourage investment.
“Security is a key factor in this, and the popularisation of basic knowledge regarding cyber crime and safety issues among the whole nation is imperative for this to ultimately succeed.”
Darren Anstee, solutions architect team lead at Arbor Networks, said: “Most SMEs probably think they're not at risk from cyber attack because they consider themselves to be under the radar of cyber criminals, but in truth any business operating online – which means just about any type and size of organisation – can become a target.”