Free membership? Sounds suspicious.
People are rightly suspicious about free offers. Nothing good comes for free. That’s why we’re considering re-branding ourselves as ‘sunny beach company, with added surf’. Because of course there ARE exceptions to the rule. Sometimes, free is great.
Plus, cyber crime hits at least two in five businesses a year. Little ones, like yours. The average cost is over £8k. So protection would be good, if only you knew where to start.
So we wanted to talk briefly about why we might be helpful if you run a small business or charity in the SW region. Our overheads are paid by other people, a bit like the growth hubs that we’ve found to be so invaluable on our own journey as a small business beach. We don’t need to make anything from our clients.
Who pays, and why?
Because we’re led by serving police officers, our salary costs are paid by the Home Office and regional policing. They want us to make it less likely that you’ll fall victim to cyber criminals. The average cost of a cyber breach is £8k, and a business that goes bankrupt is in no-one’s interest. Less tax, more police time. Protecting you is an investment, and a cheap one at that.
We’re also supported by two private sector partners, Leonardo and Bamboo. They’re big companies based in our region. They give us the cash that helps us run our business and do our marketing. Why? Because they understand the effect cybercrime can have on small traders, and they want to prevent it. A healthy regional economy is good for everyone operating in it. And if your business is stronger, then you won’t be the weak link in our collective security.
‘Membership’ sounds like I have to commit to something.
Well, not on our account. If you want to get safer in an online world then yes, there are things that you might need to put some time to. You can do ten easy things and be really safe. Or you can do just one and still be a lot safer than you were. (Clue: 2fa. If you don’t know what that is, let us tell you, ignore everything else, and no-one’s going to harangue you. After all, it’s your bottom line and your mortgage payment). But we’d like to show you a few things that you can do without too much grief.
But you have paid services too. How long before you start asking me to buy things?
Um… never. We provide all the support and guidance that we can, for free. If you want someone to look at your systems, try to hack them and report back to you on the weak points, then they’re spending several days of time and we’ll need to pay them for that. But because cyber security can be too expensive, we work with local ethical hackers from top regional universities, under the guidance of national experts. That means we can offer you services for a lot less. The whole point is to give you something that is affordable for a small business, not to make big profits. In the nicest way, we don’t care if you never take up a student service. But if you want to health check your business and make improvements, we are here to help. And if you're a local cyber company with a worthwhile offer, get in touch. We're happy to consider collaboration, especially if you can bring something useful to the party.
So what does membership look like?
You join us for free via our website, giving us your contact details and not much more. We send you national guidance that you need, because google searches can be a fraught and time-consuming place. We call you a few days later and ask you if you need any help, and you can contact us at any point in the future too. We also check in a few weeks down the line, for similar reasons. Every month, we’ll send you a list of the latest cyber breaches, telling you in plain English what to update, what to avoid, and where not to click. And we’ll regularly let you know about opportunities to learn more, through webinars, events and our contacts in regional policing. That’s it. But if you want to make more of your membership, we can talk about providing direct services, from training to system checks, from internet research to continuity planning. And if you need anything else cyber-related, we have some good partners locally. We call them ‘trusted partners’ – they’re local companies who want to help SME’s and who have met nationally-recognised criteria. We don’t get any kickbacks from recommending, we simply know that you’ve got a better starting point than a google search. If you still prefer google search, that’s fine by us!
That’s fine, but my IT partner sorts this stuff for me.
Bad news: no, they probably don’t. We’re sure they’re amazing, but do they tell you every month about the latest scams? Most breaches start with simple things like poor password security, dodgy emails, and poor updates. So briefing you and your teams is a really important aspect. Having a resilience plan is really important too, and that’s more your job than theirs. We can help with it, though.
And actually, would you know what questions to ask your provider, just to ensure that your risk is as low as it can be? How is your data backed up, when do updates happen, and what happens if you leave a laptop on the train? We can help on all those fronts, for free.
So what’s the catch?
There isn’t one. Or if there is, we and our five hundred members are missing it. As are the groups that support us, from the SW Business Council and Business West, to local enterprise partnerships, NFU and the SW institute of technology. Our suggestion is that you come join us on our free sunny beach (with added surf), and if you don’t like it here, we’ll give you a full refund of the joining fee. Which, in case you weren’t paying attention, is zero pounds.