It’s been just over a year since BRIM began work for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to launch an ambitious programme establishing a UK network of not-for-profit, Cyber Resilience Centres to improve cyber resilience in SMEs and supply chain. That was in January 2020, and of course, we don’t need to tell you what happened next.
The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a rise in related cybercrime and fraud, presenting a huge challenge both to BRIM and our partners in not only delivering the Centres that we had planned, but in providing essential support to the SMEs the Centres were designed to help in the first place, who needed help now more than ever before.
A year on from the biggest challenge we could have anticipated, how are things progressing?
We are very proud of the fact that the programme has stayed on schedule, a reflection of the agile approach to growth that has been adopted in policing. In some areas, the programme is actually ahead of schedule, which is a testament to the collective efforts of policing, academia and the BRIM team, to enable developed solutions in the fight against rising COVID and lockdown-related cybercrime.
As well as establishing nine Centres across England and Wales, the programme is already providing dynamic solutions to SMEs and at-risk supply chains across the country. We are already seeing significant engagement among those businesses that have registered for help, with 65% of registered micro-businesses (those with few than 10 employees) already engaging with the programme – a sector whose engagement has been a long-term challenge and a priority of the Home Office and NCSC.
Detective Superintendent Nick Bell, the National Policing Director for Cyber Resilience Centres with the NPCC National Cybercrime Programme, said:
“We started last year with two centres and ended 2020 with a Cyber Resilience Centre in all nine regions across England and Wales outside of London (which is planned for this year). This really is testament to my colleagues in all of the centres, and to BRIM (Business Resilience International Management) – our delivery partner – for adapting to how we delivered the programme.
“This is a unique partnership, with centres that are independently led but supported by policing. We help the micro and SME communities to understand how to protect their business, and offer free or affordable support.
“The centres are a not-for-profit partnership delivering so many benefits, where SMEs can have that trust and confidence, and where all profits are put back in for the greater good.”
The Cyber Resilience Centre Network programme continues to work towards a number of clearly defined milestones, which are reviewed with NPCC fortnightly. As cybercrime continues to escalate, the next six months will see additional developments to establish sustainability for the programme in the long term, something BRIM is working closely with our partners to help deliver.
Interest in the programme has also emerged internationally, as SMEs and supply chains in countries around the world face similar challenges.
Mandy Haeburn-Little, CEO of BRIM commented: “For many people, resilience is mistaken with preservation – being business ready, having a good continuity plan in place, being able to get back up again really quickly and well.
“But now, for the first time, resilience is equally about innovation. It’s about innovation in a way that we haven’t seen before, and it’s the first time that I can remember seeing those terms interchanged so frequently.
“Business resilience has shown us all that it’s the ability to come up with new services, products, ways of working and responding to customer needs. In my view, we have seen some really outstanding examples of innovation in this context of business resilience which otherwise, had it not been for the pandemic, might not have reached us.”