The CRC for Greater Manchester is offering a free three-month membership for any business in the region with up to 100 employees.
Membership includes tailored advice, regular news updates and useful tools to help businesses improve their cyber resilience during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The initiative has been launched after Action Fraud reported a 400% increase in COVID-19 related crimes and scams in March, coinciding with the beginning of lockdown.
Cybercriminals are looking to exploit vulnerabilities in businesses’ cyber security during this chaotic time as many companies have fewer members checking online systems and more employees working remotely.
The Cyber Resilience Centre for Greater Manchester is a not-for-profit venture between Greater Manchester Police and Manchester Digital, an independent trade organisation for the city region’s digital and tech businesses.
As a partner, Siemens, which is headquartered in Manchester, is offering its extensive knowledge around cybersecurity and the industrial threat landscape. Siemens applies IEC 62443 the highest industry standards globally for industrial cyber security. It is also creator of the Charter of Trust at the 2018 Munich Security Conference which has multi-national corporations such as AES, Airbus, Allianz, Atos, Cisco, Daimler, IBM and Dell Technologies among many other companies as signatories.
Cyber-attacks on Industrial Control Systems (ICS), which help run Operational Technology (OT), can interrupt production, damage physical assets, and even result in injury or death to employees and public alike.
Siemens is offering specialist consultation for business leaders on how they handle the two-fold challenge of safety and security.
This starts with understanding the increased exposure to cyber risks with home-based work through less-reliable internet connections and honest mistakes made in unfamiliar workflows, and establishing which tasks pose unacceptable risks and which can be adapted for remote work. For example, many monitoring tasks can be done remotely and safely with the right procedures, while testing or servicing safety and backup systems remotely cannot.
Siemens has also offered advice on establishing appropriate defences for businesses to reduce the consequences of cyberattacks. This could involve reengineering or revamping the security architecture by introducing layers of defence such as firewalls or creating a protected secure zone.
Paul Hingley, Security Services Business Manager at Siemens, responsible for Industrial Cyber Security, said: “Siemens is happy to be supporting the business community through the Cyber Resilience Centre of Greater Manchester.
“The cyber threat landscape is evolving at a phenomenal pace and has been exacerbated by the impact on industry by COVID-19. It means the tools businesses need to defend against attacks and combat also need to evolve. While these circumstances are challenging and worrying, it does present an opportunity for businesses to reassess their cyber security strategy.”
Cybercrime is already estimated to cost the Greater Manchester economy a £860 million a year. Many businesses struggle financially to cope with the aftermath of breaches and attacks.
Detective Superintendent Neil Jones, from Greater Manchester Police, said: “’During this time of crisis, businesses of all sizes are falling victim to online crime. The Cyber Resilience Centre’s offer of support will help many become more resilient against cybercrime.’’