Hallam ethical hackers commissioned to provide £100k cyber support to small businesses

11th December 2020

Computing students at Sheffield Hallam have been commissioned by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to support small, medium, and sole trading businesses with cyber security.

The student “ethical hackers” are part of the North East Business Resilience Centre (NEBRC), a non-profit organisation which exists to help businesses be cyber safe, delivered by an expert team of trusted professionals and police officers alongside students from Sheffield Hallam and Northumbria University.

Through the £100k programme, the NEBRC will support the self-employed and micro-businesses of less than 10 employees across the Leeds City Region at a time when so many businesses are facing ongoing change and distribution as a result of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

The pandemic period has seen a 400% increase in cyber fraud with statistics reflecting that small businesses - and particularly the self-employed sole trader or micro business - have found themselves at greatest risk and without access to relevant cyber support and services.

Shahrzad Zargari, course leader in computer security with forensics at Sheffield Hallam, who is leading the University’s involvement in the NEBRC, said:  “This is fantastic news for our students who can now help more small businesses build their resistance to cyber-attacks as part of this pioneering project.

“It gives our students an invaluable opportunity to use their knowledge and skills to make a real positive impact on businesses which have already had such a challenging year due to the global pandemic.”

Roger Marsh OBE, DL, chair of Leeds City Region partnership (the LEP) and NP11 said: “The LEP is continuing to support businesses with the impact of Covid-19, and cyber security is a key part of our recovery plans to produce resilient and thriving businesses.

“I am delighted to be working with NEBRC on our new cyber resilience programme to help those that currently need it the most.

“This is a brilliant opportunity for micro-businesses to benefit from expert advice, and I’d encourage all to get in touch and find out how they can mitigate cyber security risks and protect their business.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s police and crime Commissioner (PCC), said: “As we all know, it’s currently a very difficult time for many, and that goes for business too. The last thing any SMEs need right now is a cyber-attack, so it’s fantastic that £100,000 worth of extra support is being put in place for prevention initiatives.”

Commenting on the appointment, NEBRC Director and Police Superintendent, Rebecca Chapman said: “We are proud to be part of this crucial, new programme, working with SMEs across the region to support cyber security in this modern age.

“As an organisation we work with our partners to protect people, places and processes. We are only too aware of the difficulties many micro and small businesses in particular are facing during this pandemic, when so many of us are working from home and reliant on new and different IT systems.

“We are looking forward to offering insight and support to the local and regional community to help ensure that cyber safety is a priority for all.”

The NEBRC forms part of a national Business/Cyber Resilience Centre network which is being developed by Business Resilience International Management (BRIM), working for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Home Office.

Find out more about this programme

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