As the national network of Cyber Resilience Centres continues to expand, we’re bringing you a series of interviews with some of the Policing teams heading up each Centre to get their take on the challenges facing each region.
In this blog, we talk to Mark Moore, the Police Lead at the South West Cyber Resilience Centre about the questions small businesses need to ask themselves to be cyber secure, his ambitions for the Centre and the runaway popularity of the free Core Membership:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to the role of Police Lead at Centre?
Like many police officers, policing is almost all I’ve ever done. I confess to a dark past which involved a year of computer programming before starting on my university career in modern languages, but since then it’s been largely criminality all the way, for over a quarter of a century! I’ve had the good fortune to be involved in some great roles in policing, from managing huge chunks of scenic Devon, to assisting at Crown Court trials in France, and on to national consultancy roles embedded in a number of UK forces.
I was drawn to the role in setting up the CRC because it’s a genuinely new challenge for me. I was actually quite lucky to get the position since I hadn’t even seen the advert until my wife spoke to me about it the day before applications closed, so I feel enormously fortunate to have been given a chance to make such a difference to so many businesses across the country. The CRC is a genuinely radical and innovative way for policing to approach a problem, and I feel privileged to be a part of that and determined to make a difference.
What are some of your ambitions for the Centre?
I want to make sure that we have as many small businesses as possible on our books; for me, that’s the core purpose of our existence. There is already so much expertise out there which they can tap into, particularly from the National Cyber Security Centre, but too often they’re unaware of its existence. The main target for our CRC is to grow its reach into the business community, and make sure that everyone has the digital equivalent of a door lock fitted to secure their business information.
If I look forward a few years, I want businesses throughout the region to understand what basic cyber hygiene looks like and to have taken the right measures to protect themselves. We can’t do that if we haven’t connected with them and opened a channel of communication. It would be great if, having increased their cyber awareness, they were increasingly adopting the standards of Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus. Like most police officers, I’m driven by a desire to make people safer, and every business that avoids falling prey to ransomware, data breaches and hacking, is another big tick for us.
In your opinion, what are the most important things SMEs can do in the fight against cyber crime?
Ask the obvious questions. Are my systems updated? Is my password safe? Is my information backed up? Do my staff know how to be cyber-secure and would they tell me if something went wrong? I’m working through the same questions myself from my position in managing what is, effectively, a new not-for-profit business, so we’re all in this together.
What’s difficult is that so many people think that they need technical expertise or expensive consultancy to get started and that absolutely isn’t the case.
At the most basic level, SMEs need to ask three things; Which questions should I ask? What does a good answer sound like? And, as time passes, what new threats should I be aware of? The free Core Membership of our Centre, thanks to our partnership with the National Cyber Security Centre and collaboration with genuine regional experts, will give them the answer to all three questions.
What's been the biggest challenge for the Centre this year?
It’s almost too early to answer this, given that we only started work on bringing the centre into being around eight weeks ago. It’s true that it feels like a really difficult time to start a new venture, for us as for others in the commercial world, and for sure COVID-19 has meant that many of our potential partners have had their energy taken up with far more obvious threats. That presents its own challenge, although I’ve been enormously encouraged to find how many people in the cyber world want to help and to make a difference to their local economy. However, I think that the biggest challenge so far has been a really positive one: managing the weight of applications for our free Core Membership!
When we launched as a centre through the media there were a few really busy days as we contacted each of our members individually and made sure that they had what they needed, were safe, and were given the right information to protect them. It’s a nice challenge to have, and as the centre expands I’m looking forward to a lot more very hard work over the course of the year.
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
I think that people don’t always understand what a hugely ambitious programme this is for UK policing. We’ve never before lent our badge to a commercial venture (albeit not for profit) in quite this way, on what is a national scale and with enormous behind-the-scenes expertise from our supporting consultants. This is a genuine endeavour to build a collaborative partnership drawing in expertise from high-flying businesses, the brightest and best of academia, and regional/ local umbrella groups, and to protect our economy from a huge and growing threat. I’m so proud to be in at the ground level as we build towards that future, and if there’s anyone reading this from the business community or third sector, then register now and protect yourself, and contact us if you think you can help!
You can find out more about the South West Cyber Resilience Centre here.