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Home Office launches £4m cyber security awareness scheme

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The UK Home Office has launched a new £4m information security awareness campaign, designed to educate businesses and consumers about rising hacker threats. The first stage of the campaign is due to get underway in the autumn.

The scheme will sit alongside other more established information security initiatives, such as Get Safe Online as part of the government’s National Cyber Security Programme. The Home Office is inviting bids from media, PR and creative agencies to get the word out on cyber security.

Graeme Stewart, director of public sector strategy at McAfee, called for a consolidation of security training initiatives.

"McAfee applauds the UK Home Office initiative to raise awareness of the seriousness and impact of cyber threat to UK businesses and citizens," Stewart said. "There are now a number of initiatives spread across HMG and, for our part, we’d like to see a single coordinated campaign that explains the dangers in a straightforward way to board members and directors of organisations both large and small.

"For the Government’s digital transformation programmes to be successful, UK citizens need to take a certain level of responsibility for their own online safety in order for them to take full advantage of the ‘Digital by Default’ mantra currently in play across UK public sector,” he added.

However Mark James, technical director ESET UK, welcomed the focus of the awareness training on small business, a sector that's often overlooked in security awareness programs.

"SMEs form the backbone of the UK economy and without the resources always available to larger enterprises basic cracks in security measures can appear," he states. "When breaches in security can cripple a company in terms of both financial and reputational damage, it’s encouraging to see the government taking a lead in helping businesses build up resistance to threats by equipping them with the skills and confidence to adequately educate staff on the ways to spot malware and hacker threats."

The Home Office released figures on Thursday suggesting that the number of crimes committed against UK businesses has dropped from 21.5m in 2002 to seven million in 2012 as part of a report entitled Crime against businesses: detailed findings from the 2012 Commercial Victimisation Survey. These statistics, however, omit figures related to cyber crime, which are notoriously difficult and unreliable. ®

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