North west businesses to get tool to help fight cyber attacks

All businesses and organisations in the north west are to get access to a free tool to understand and monitor malicious cyber threats, police have said.

The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) says firms can use Police CyberAlarm, a government-funded program which monitors internet connections.

ROCU says it will detect and provide regular reports of suspected malicious activity, enabling a business to take steps to improve their cyber resilience.

It comes days after Manchester United was hit by a "sophisticated" cyber attack, although the club believed fans' personal data had not been breached.

Detective Inspector Dave Turner from the Regional Cyber Crime Team said: "The threat of cyber-attacks against businesses are increasing and police and industry need to work together to combat this threat. Police CyberAlarm is a great example of what can be achieved when policing and private industry work together. "We know that the average cost of a cyber attack to a small business is around £11,000 and we know that there are thousands of successful attacks every day. Cyber Security should be a priority for every single business no matter how big or small that business is. This is a police led project which businesses can trust. There is no catch to signing up, it is being offered for free and we want to get as many businesses across the North West. "The more members we have, the more data we get which will provide law enforcement with a much richer intelligence picture about the current and emerging threats businesses are facing. The data will also be presented back to members in the form of regular reports to help them take steps to improve their cyber security. I would urge businesses to sign up and take advantage of all Police CyberAlarm has to offer."

Police say the program does not see any of the content of any network traffic and has been designed to protect personal data, trade secrets and intellectual property. Businesses will get regular reports about suspicious and potentially malicious attacks so they can improve their cyber resilience. It will also help law enforcement identify current threats and take enforcement action against cyber criminals.

A poll for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport earlier this year found almost half of businesses (46%) and a quarter of charities (26%) reported having cyber security breaches or attacks in the previous 12 months.

However, the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 suggested organisations have become more resilient to breaches and attacks over time.