Pragmatism is key in setting up cyber security defences, says East Anglian IT expert

Darren Chapman, founder of cyber security consultancy company Cyber Scale. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Darren Chapman, founder of cyber security consultancy company Cyber Scale. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Small and micro-businesses must not sacrifice functionality for safety when setting up their cyber security defences.

This is the warning of a digital security expert who is launching a series of workshops to help East Anglia's smallest firms access cyber safety advice.

Darren Chapman, founder of consultancy firm Cyber Scale in Wymondham, said there are numerous 'myths' surrounding cyber security, which have been more widely circulated in the wake of incidents like the WannaCry ransomware attack which hit the NHS.

'People think because they have anti-virus software or they have moved their data to the cloud they will be okay,' he said.

'In the last year 875,000 UK SMEs have suffered a cyber attack, which is about a fifth of all SMEs. It's a big number.'

But he stressed the need for pragmatism among smaller businesses. 'I have seen some cyber security projects fail because the business trying to put tools into place has not taken into account the effect on its users.

'It can make you safer, but can be so restrictive that it slows down your ability to do business, and that can be very detrimental to smaller companies.'

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Mr Chapman, who has worked in IT with BT and Aviva, added that expensive tools and services are not a necessity. 'There is a misconception that cyber security is all about tools and technology but people and process are a huge factor.'

In October Cyber Scale is starting a series of six monthly workshops to educate small and owner-managed businesses in cyber security, which will be attended by guest speakers.

Mr Chapman said: 'At first we help them [the business owners] to identify the kind of things that are a cyber security risk, so they can go away and sort some fundamental things.

'From there we build a plan: it is based on best practice but we help them tailor it to them.'

Ahead of the workshop's launch Cyber Scale will be holding three taster sessions. Mr Chapman will also be promoting the sessions during Small Business Advice Week (September 4-10) with NatWest's small business team and NWES, from whom he sought support to start his company.

Entrepreneurial spirit runs in Mr Chapman's family – his father runs his own accountancy firm and his wife is a self-employed solicitor.

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