Small businesses offered free help against cyber crime attacks
Small business owners in Hertfordshire are being offered a free protection service against the most common crime in the county.
A security expert will review their computer systems to give advice about cyber crime in a £25,000 scheme funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council.
The Herts Cyber Basics Review (CBR) is part of David Lloyd’s plan to protect the county’s 60,000 small and medium sized enterprises. Hertfordshire is one of the most targeted counties in the UK by cyber criminals.
“Tackling cyber crime is one of my top priorities for cutting crime and protecting businesses in Hertfordshire. It is the biggest risk they face and the crime they are most likely to suffer,” said Mr Lloyd.

“Small businesses really are at risk. The hackers are out there, it is real and if you don’t do something about it, you are likely to be a victim. It can hit you and it will take out your business.
“The CBR is a really important starting point. I have put money in so businesses can go and get free advice, with something that is targeted to their needs.
“This scheme aims to raise awareness of the risks of cybercrime, in the hope that all of Hertfordshire’s businesses will take the threat seriously.”
The scheme which will run for a limited time only, and is offered to any business in Hertfordshire that has five or fewer employees. It is available on a first-come, first-served basis. 
Participants will be able to have a free consultation with a Hertfordshire-based IT company, who will carry out a basic review of their cyber practices and advise them of the steps they need to take to make themselves cyber-secure.
The consultation is based on a ‘Cyber Basics Review’; a template set of questions developed by the Police’s Eastern Region Special Operations Unit and is based on the Government’s own more in-depth ‘Cyber Essentials’ programme.  Businesses will be provided with an action plan they can follow and progress on to Cyber Essentials.
Guy Pratt, Deputy Director of Community Protection at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “Hertfordshire County Council is determined to create more resilient businesses in the face of cybercrime.  The Trading Standards Business Team is pleased to be leading this project and will ensure that the Cyber Basics Reviews scheme is a success.  Small businesses must understand that they are a target for cybercriminals and take what are often simple steps to protect themselves.”

Detective Inspector Marcus Bromley from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit said: “Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing issues that police forces across the country are currently dealing with. It costs the local economy and businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds every year and in many cases, simple crime prevention advice can help to prevent most cyber-attacks on business networks.
Head of Cyber and Economic Crime Directorate at the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) Chief Inspector Martin Peters: said “We’re really pleased that the PCC is supporting ERSOU Cybercrime Unit Protect Team to deliver and promote the ERSOU Cyber Basics Review tool by providing funding for this important piece of work. Cyber security is absolutely vital to any businesses, regardless of their size. We’re looking forward to working with Hertfordshire County Council to deliver this project, which will provide businesses in Hertfordshire with crucial knowledge and understanding as to how they can best protect themselves.”
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Small and medium-sized businesses in Hertfordshire are falling victim to cybercrime which is costing them millions of pounds every year.
In December 2018 the Commissioner launched a joint strategy with Hertfordshire County Council to be the first in the country to focus on preventing cybercrime rather than just responding to it.
The impact of cybercrime is now reaching unprecedented levels. Tools that were once the preserve of highly skilled hackers and now available off the shelf on the Dark Web at little or no cost. The government has categorised cybercrime as a 'Tier 1' threat, the highest level available, the same as terrorism.
David Lloyd said at the launch: “Over ninety percent of Hertfordshire’s sixty thousand SMEs are ‘Micro’ businesses - meaning they have fewer than ten employees - and these are some of the most vulnerable to cyber risk.  These businesses do not have teams of IT staff to support them, and many believe either they are not at risk or that it is too difficult to do anything about it.