Govt rolls out student-staffed cyber resilience centres

The National Police Chief's Council has today announced a new cyber resilience support network for small businesses. Part of the National Crime Programme, the launch will see regional Cyber Resilience Centres established in all regions of the country, as well as the roll-out of a free tool to help businesses identify malicious cyber activity.

Modelled on the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, the new CRCs comprise police, the private sector and academia, creating a national network to provide smaller businesses and organisations with affordable access to cyber security services or consultancy.

Each CRC is headed by a police lead working in consultation with BRIM. So far, CRCs have opened in Greater Manchester, the North East (inc Yorkshire & Humber), East Midlands and the West Midlands. Centres in the South East and Wales are scheduled for September.
To make the programme viable, the NPCC says "skilled students" will provide the services, which at the same time will give them "valuable work experience".

Mandy Haeburn-Little, CEO of Business Resilience International Management, which is advising on the network, said: “This is a fundamental and very positive step by policing and represents a new era for cyber crime prevention where policing will work hand in hand with private sector in the alignment of cyber strategies. This fulfils so many objectives together from supporting emerging student skills, delivery of policing cyber crime objectives, support for all sectors of business and the focus for much needed assistance towards economic growth for business. It is a one stop shop for cyber resilience which we have worked very hard to develop with NPCC and the support of the Home Office."

The Police CyberAlarm tool acts as a 'virtual CCTV camera' monitoring the traffic identified as suspicious on a member organisation’s connection to the internet at their firewall. It is designed to detect and provide regular reports of suspected malicious activity, enabling organisations to minimise their vulnerabilities and protect themselves.

Originally piloted in Northamptonshire, it's hoped that the tool will help police understand the developing UK cyber threat and appropriately allocate resources to tackle it. It is free for the duration of the pilot (until March 2021).

Welcoming the development, cyber security specialist at ESET, Jake Moore said having students help enable the project needn’t be viewed as a simple cost-cutting exercise.

"Students are experienced individuals and are often more capable than other senior members of staff in the programme.

"Students are equipped with the latest, most up-to-date knowledge of cyber threats, the methodology, and often the answers to mitigate such threats. Offering this up as work experience will also open them to future job offers and add valuable experience to their CVs.”

The National Cybercrime Programme team secured £2.1m of funding to deliver both the CRCs and Police CyberAlarm on behalf of the Team Cyber UK Network for the financial year 2020/21.

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