DMU research project to provide free cyber security health check for businesses

Researchers from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are offering small businesses a free cyber security health check as part of a new Home Office-funded project to combat cybercrime.

Academics from DMU are working in partnership with Coventry University, the University of Kent and Kent Police to improve the cyber security behaviours of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as sole-traders and charities.

Cyber web

The project hopes to recruit 160 sole traders, small businesses and charities to participate in the study by taking part in an online survey about their approaches, perceptions and attitudes to cyber risk.

These organisations will then receive a free hour-long cyber health check which will review their current policy and provide advice on how their cyber security can be improved.

Researchers will then follow up with the organisations three months later to see whether progress has been made.

Cyber-attacks are one of the biggest risks to SMEs, with around 50% of small businesses being attacked each year.

Professor of Economics Edward Cartwright, DMU’s lead on the project, said that this is an important issue to address.

“This is a big issue for small businesses,” he said. “The evidence suggests that around half of businesses are attacked every year and the consequences can be quite severe. It could even mean bankruptcy for some organisations.

“Small businesses and charities often don’t have the resources or don’t prioritise cyber security so they can be quite vulnerable to being attacked. It’s a question of when rather than if.

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Professor Cartwright, who is an expert in behavioural economics, said that businesses can easily reduce their cyber risk without the need for expensive technology.

He explained: “There are some very simple things that small businesses can do to protect themselves but they aren’t doing them, so that’s what this study is aiming to address.”

“This is a big problem and if we can solve it then it would be a huge breakthrough. It is a problem that is only going to get worse because businesses are ever more reliant on cyber-space and the criminals are getting more sophisticated.”

The study is now open for recruitment and organisations with fewer than 50 employees can apply to participate by emailing or through the sign up page
Posted on Thursday 4th April 2019

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