Mayor brings in London Digital Security Centre to tackle cyber crime

01 October 2015

England’s first specialist centre dedicated to helping small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) protect themselves from cyber criminals has opened today in central London.

The London Digital Security Centre (LDSC) was a key recommendation in the Mayor’s Business Crime Strategy, launched in July 2014, which aims to make London a safer, better place to do business. Millions of pounds are lost to cyber-crime each year and online security is a growing concern for SMEs, with attacks increasing against both them and large corporate businesses. 74 per cent of SMEs in the UK reported being attacked by an unauthorised outsider in 2014-15, and 16 per cent had their network hit, losing both sensitive data and the ability to trade*.

The LDSC brings together for the first time experts from policing, technology and business to provide clear, accessible digital security advice and support to London’s SMEs, which employ over two million people across the capital and make up almost 50 per cent of its business turnover, equalling £430 billion. 

The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) is providing £325,000 of funding to the centre over two years, after which it will become self-sufficient, paid for through revenues generated from the sale of its services and from donations.

The LDSC delivers a unique shared service, involving the Metropolitan Police’s specialist online crime and fraud FALCON team, the National Crime Agency and the City of London Police, working in partnership with academics, major businesses and technology organisations including Barclays, RBS and BT. It offers the latest cyber industry guidance through its website, roadshows and advice surgeries and provides expert security assessments and digital footprint reports for businesses to identify and resolve vulnerabilities.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: ‘’Cyber security is of critical importance to London’s small businesses, which employ millions across the capital and bring in billions to our economy. We want all these organisations to be able to protect themselves from harmful cyber-crime and cyber-enabled fraud. For the first time, small businesses in London will have affordable access to support from the best minds in the digital policing world, alongside those with the know-how to hack into systems and advise on securing them. The London Digital Security Centre builds on the work we’re already doing to support businesses in the digital age and make sure London remains the number one place in the world to do business.’’

Stephen Greenhalgh, the Deputy Mayor for Policing And Crime, today visited the centre and was shown how a company’s technology systems can be attacked in a demonstration from an ethical hacker, who recreated a hack on a large screen and explained how businesses can protect themselves against threats both online and in the physical environment.

The Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, said: “The impact of fraud is devastating, and the digital security of London’s businesses, especially smaller enterprises and entrepreneurial start-ups, is something we take extremely seriously. The new Met FALCON unit, with 300 dedicated officers, is doing some excellent work in our fight against online crime and fraud, but businesses must make securing their digital infrastructure as integral to their business as securing their premises. The LDSC goes a long way to help this, providing a one stop shop to help businesses build up their resilience and protect themselves from online crime.’’

The LDSC builds on the model used in Scotland by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, and has received significant private sector support, including training from Barclays and RBS, and accommodation from BT has also provided accommodation, saving £120,000 in the centre’s first year.

Patrick Nuttall, Head of the London Digital Security Centre said: “We have consulted extensively with SMEs in London and we know the demand is there for a trusted, affordable resource to provide cyber security advice and support. Digital technologies have transformed small and medium businesses in London, bringing a world of new opportunities for innovation, commerce and efficiency. But going digital also brings with it risks. The LDSC is here to help London businesses – who may not be able to afford the sort of in-house expertise found in larger companies - to identify and manage those risks, enabling them to safely harness the power of technology without breaking the bank.”

Alan Seldon, Operations Director at Voneus, a London-based telecommunications agency which used the LDSC’s services, said: “No company should be complacent about the possibility of being targeted by cyber criminals. Like all SMEs we cannot dedicate a full time resource, so it makes sense to bring in the experts at the London Digital Security Centre to test our systems and to provide advice. A small investment could potentially mitigate against a large loss, and by using the LDSC we are able to protect ourselves as much as possible.’’

Detective Superintendent Jayne Snelgrove, who leads the Met's fraud and cyber-crime team FALCON, said: "When FALCON was launched a year ago, we highlighted our intention to work more closely with businesses across London, to help them better protect themselves from fraud and cyber-crime. FALCON officers will be working with the LDSC to arm small and medium enterprises with the knowledge and tools they need to help them do so. This, combined with our ongoing work to arrest perpetrators, will make London an increasingly hostile place for cyber criminals and fraudsters."

Notes to editors

*Figures from the 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey, conducted by PwC: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/432412/bis-15-302-information_security_breaches_survey_2015-full-report.pdf

 

-         The LDSC was established as part of the Mayor’s Business Crime Strategy, published in July 2014. https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-crime/publications/business-crime-strategy-2014-16. The LDSC is one of the commitments in the Strategy that came out of the consultation, responding to demand by providing a service to make it easier for SMEs to protect their assets, intellectual property and customer data from cyber criminals.

-         The LDSC is the first of its kind in England, based on the model used in Scotland by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre.

-         MOPAC, the National Crime Agency and the City of London Police are all providing secondments to the venture.

-         The LDSC website can be visited at www.londondsc.co.uk, live from 1st October 2015.

-         Ethical hackers are granted permission to exploit computer systems in a specialised environment for the purpose of making them more secure against cyber attacks.

-         The LDSC is a limited liability company – a partnership between police, businesses and information security experts.

-         MOPAC publishes detailed data on business crime in London on its Business Crime Dashboard, available here: https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-crime/data-information/business-crime

-         The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime and Federation of Small Businesses ran a series of free masterclasses in 2015 to help the capital’s small and medium sized businesses learn more about cyber security.