Scottish IT company Converged Communication Solutions has made further investments in its cyber security service as it experiences growing demand from businesses that are seeking to better protect themselves online.

The firm, which has offices in Aberdeen and Inverness, has invested around £100,000 to expand and enhance its cyber security service.  It follows revelations from police records in north-east Scotland that companies in the region have been scammed out of over £1million in the past 19 months.  This includes nearly £800,000 through business e-mail intercept fraud.

Cyber Essentials Plus Certification Body

As a result of the investment, Converged has become a Certification Body for the UK government-backed Cyber Essentials Plus standard and has bolstered its dedicated cyber security team with two new appointments.  Both moves are in response to growing demand from clients seeking to safeguard their IT and telephony systems from malicious cyber attacks.

Cyber Essentials Plus is the top level of certification in the two-tier, UK-wide Cyber Essentials programme.  Converged also holds Certification Body status for the entry level Cyber Essentials standard.

Illustrating the importance with which cyber security is viewed in relation to national security, the programme is operated by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ – the UK government’s intelligence and security agency.

Cyber Essentials is designed to protect organisations from a range of common online threats and demonstrate their commitment to cyber security.  The baseline standard involves organisations carrying out a self-evaluation of their digital security practices and data protection measures which is then verified by a Certification Body.

Cyber Essentials Plus delivers a more robust assessment of these procedures.  It involves a qualified Certification Body, such as Converged, conducting an independent vulnerability scan within the organisation to test and verify security controls, and assess the effectiveness of hardware to defend against external online threats.  Both certification levels require annual renewal.

Converged is the only Scottish IT company with offices in north-east Scotland and the Highlands that is a Cyber Essentials Plus Certification Body.  The firm has already supported a number of organisations in gaining Cyber Essentials certification and over the coming months will be working with around 30 others to help them gain the same standard.  It will also assist around a dozen companies to achieve the higher Cyber Essentials Plus certification.

SBRC Trusted Partner

In addition, Converged is a trusted partner of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre and a certifying assessor for the IASME (Informational Assurance for SMEs) Governance Standard.  This standard allows organisations to comply with data protection legislation such as GDPR.

The financial impact of cyber attacks has been well documented in recent months.  Regulators have announced multi-million pound fines for several well-known companies following data breaches of customer information.

Cost of breaches up to £100,000

Elsewhere, a recent report from the Department for Culture Media and Sport noted that businesses and charities are taking steps to improve their cyber security, yet only a third of the 2,000 organisations surveyed had conducted a cyber risk assessment in the previous 12 months.  A fifth of charities and a third of businesses surveyed admitted to suffering a cyber security breach in the previous 12 months, with the cost of such breaches being up to £100,000.

Don’t be complacent

John Gillies, cyber security assessor at Converged Communication Solutions, said: “We should never be complacent about the implications of a cyber security breach and should always be on our guard when working online.  If an e-mail, website or online advert looks suspicious, it probably is.  Recent malware and ransomware attacks have illustrated that these types of cyber threats continue to persist and they will remain commonplace.

“Being prepared for a possible cyber attack is crucial and the process of Cyber Essentials certification, which offers independent verification, can help ensure that.  Gaining Certification Body status for the Cyber Essentials Plus standard highlights our commitment to helping organisations beat the threats posed by cyber crime.

“We have witnessed a noticeable upsurge in demand from businesses and charities across Scotland for assistance in achieving Cyber Essentials certification, which, in part, can be attributed to the voucher scheme run by the Scottish Government.  All sectors of industry are investing in the process.  At Converged we are currently supporting agricultural, oil and gas, software development, recruitment, construction and hospitality businesses through the certification process.”

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