Gareth Jones examines the plans for CyberScotland Week 2021 and why charities should be thinking about the digital risks they face
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of technology.
Organisations that previously used digital means to connect with the people they help, and to support their staff and volunteers, were ahead of the curve when offices were closed abruptly in March of last year.
Since then, the majority of organisations have embraced programmes such as Zoom and Teams to ensure their services can continue as best possible.
However as organisations introduce digital technology into their daily operations, the issue of cyber security is more important than ever.
Since March of last year - when Britain went into lockdown – there has been a staggering rise in cyber crime, with a quarter of attacks related to Covid. Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has reported that the overall number of serious hacker attacks reached an all-time record of 723 over the past year.
The risks organisations face will be just one of the issues discussed at CyberScotland Week. The annual event, which is supported by the Scottish Government and a range of partners, will take place from 22-28 February.
The week will bring together influencers, experts, and the next generation of talent for the third consecutive year to increase awareness of staying safe and secure online.
The festival will be bigger in scope, reflecting the need to boost awareness of safe use of online technologies following a rise in cyber-attacks on businesses and organisations. Events will not only educate attendees in identifying such attacks, but also outline how they can manage the risks accordingly. A recent study conducted by Trend Micro highlighted that 39% of workers use their personal devices to access corporate data, increasing risks significantly to organisational security.
With 70 events being held during the event last year, it is hoped that the 2021 event will follow suit as more people can attend CyberScotland Week than ever before as it adds virtual sessions for the first time. With various conferences, workshops and webinars going digital, a wider audience from across the length and breadth of Scotland will be able to join in and participate. Sessions will explore the challenges within a fast-changing threat landscape and the innovation that has come about as a result.
Events and workshops over the week-long event will utilise secure video conferencing technology, and innovative ideas to make events engaging will be a key component to ensure the week is a success.
Those of particular interest to the charity sector include How to successfully embed cyber security into your organisation's culture, engaging your staff and volunteers on Monday 22 February and Crisis recovery: lessons learned for charities on Wednesday 24 February.
As with previous years, CyberScotland Week 2021 will focus on the three key themes of protection, innovation and skills and careers. Across these sessions, partners will showcase the innovative work taking place across Scotland’s cyber sector and, as the job market flexes, skills development and career opportunities in the cyber security industry will likely be of significant interest to attendees.
Public finance minister Ben Macpherson MSP said: “Cyber criminals pose a significant risk to businesses, organisations and individuals, and we all have a part to play in making Scotland more and more digitally resilient.
“CyberScotland Week is now a landmark date in Scotland’s cyber calendar and a source of valuable advice and information about how to stay safe online and keep your data secure. This is even more important as we spend more time online during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is also an opportunity for Scotland’s rapidly growing tech sector and world class universities to showcase their expertise, innovation and latest products.”
As part of CyberScoland Week, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) will host the Scottish Cyber Awards on Thursday 25 February. The awards celebrate the individuals and organisations working to make a difference to Scotland’s cyber security across public and private sectors.
Kirstie Steele, cyber resilience community lead at the SBRC, said: “The last nine months has reinforced how much we rely on technology as part of our everyday lives – allowing us to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues as we navigate the pandemic. However, this has created an opportunity for hackers to take advantage of our vulnerability for their own gain. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we know what to do look out for and put steps in place to reduce the chance of us becoming a victim, and the impact if we do.”