New strategy to protect Scotland from cyber crime

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A new action plan aimed at tackling cyber crime has been unveiled by the Scottish Government.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the strategy, developed with industry experts on the National Cyber Resilience Leaders’ Board, would help make Scotland one of the safest places to live, work and do business in.

With both businesses and individuals increasingly reliant on digital technology, Mr Swinney said this could make them ” more vulnerable to the criminals who seek to exploit them for malicious purposes”.

He added: “Digital technologies can help criminals to bully vulnerable people, sexually exploit children, steal intellectual property, or destroy critical infrastructure.

“I want us all to take steps to minimise these risks, so that Scotland becomes one of the safest countries in the world to live in and one of the most reliable places to do business with.

“This strategy sets out the actions we need to take to make Scotland a cyber resilient place to live, work and do business.”

Mr Swinney pledged the Scottish Government would ” lead from the front, building our own cyber resilience and working with other public sector organisations to make sure resilience is built in to digital public services”.

He added: “We will also be working with those who provide key services in the private and third sectors to encourage them to make sure they are cyber resilient.”

The Scottish Government is acting after research for the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills showed that 74% of small businesses and 90% of large organisations had a security breach in 2015 – up from 60% and 81% respectively in 2014.

Half of the worst breaches were caused by human error, compared to 31% in 2014.

CBI Scotland director Hugh Aitken welcomed the new strategy, saying that “now more than ever cyber security has to be an important priority for Scottish businesses and public bodies”.

He said: ” The Public Sector Action Plan on Cyber Resilience marks an important step on the journey to making Scotland a more cyber secure country.

“Ensuring all public bodies have a baseline standard for cyber resilience could be the difference between repelling an attack or having to deal with a raft of legal and reputational consequences.”

Mr Aitken said that increasing cyber resilience could also offer “huge opportunities” for the economy.

“Cyber security is a rapid growth sector and, with significant expertise in software development, tech innovation and fintech, Scotland is ideally placed to take advantage and become a global leader in the field,” he said.