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Scottish tech firm takes part in UK cyber security programme


A Scots tech firm has taken part in a cyber security programme to help the UK lead the fight against cyber crime.

Glasgow-based Vistalworks was chosen to be part of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Cyber Accelerator scheme.

It works with start-ups to encourage new products, skills, jobs and growth to help make the UK a safer place to live and work online. Firms are chosen through open competition and must identify areas of cyber security weakness where new products are needed.

Vistalworks, which recently completed its role in the accelerator, has developed an intelligence service for national law enforcement agencies which can examine illicit trade for relevant jurisdictions and focus areas to reveal where to target protection measures.

The company, which also has a base in Estonia and operates across the EU, is currently working on targeting the European black market in greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons, as well as providing product safety alerts in places such as Lithuania.

It provides direct protection for UK consumers through its online shopping checker tool, and it aims to work with banks and payment providers to embed new protection measures.

In the UK, it is estimated that cybercrime cost the economy £190bn last year. It is the biggest funding source of organised crime and directly harms economies, the environment, businesses, citizens and their communities.

Vicky Brock, founder and chief executive of Vistalworks, said: “Cybercrime is escalating at an alarming rate and taking part in the programme at the NCSC has enabled us to learn more about the challenges we face.

“We have developed an intelligence solution to help enforcement agencies tackle this, especially as their agents are mostly all deskbound right now, and we can help them to focus their prevention and protection efforts.

“There is an opportunity for Scotland and the UK to harness the skills needed to tackle the global problem of cyber crime and we’ll be using the knowledge we have gained to produce tech solutions for agencies across the world.”

This weekend marks the end of Cyber Scotland Week – a series of events to make businesses, organisations and individuals more cyber aware and resilient.

As part of the week of events, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) has announced the winners of its first Cyber Community Awards – established to celebrate the contribution of those keeping Scotland’s online community safe.

At a virtual awards ceremony held last night, hosted by comedian Fred MacAulay, five awards were given to individuals and organisations from across education and the public, private and third sectors.

The winners is as follows:

Award Category

Winner

SBRC Student Community Champion

Allan Goodwill, Abertay University

SBRC Outstanding Cyber Community Event

Getting it Right…Keeping Your Child Safe – Perth and Kinross Council, Education and Children’s Services

SBRC Cyber Community Hero

Annabel Turner, CyberSafe Scotland

Speaking about Goodwill’s win, judges were impressed with his involvement in programmes such as ‘TryHackMe’ and the ‘Capture the Flag’ challenges, tackling serious issues through gamification and a creative approach.

On Getting it Right…Keeping Your Child Safe, judges remarked that making online programmes for parents engaging can be a difficult task.

“However, this event series established by Perth and Kinross Council, Education and Children’s Services positively impacted parents and professionals across the local region, sharing knowledge and practical advice to empower them to become more cyber resilient and to help keep homes and communities safer from the risks that exist online.”



Presenter Fred MacAulay announcing Annabel Turner from CyberSafe Scotland's award
Presenter Fred MacAulay announcing Annabel Turner from CyberSafe Scotland’s award

And speaking about Turner, the judges said that her contribution to increasing online safety has been significant.

“We commend her for the work she has done to support schools from every learning cluster in Aberdeen as well as the huge success in using Facebook Live to reach parents.”

In addition to the main categories, Gordon MacDonald, a constable with Police Scotland was given a Special Recognition Award for his work in the area.

His Police Scotland colleagues Beverly Bowles and Michael McCullagh – alongside Alison Stone of the SCVO, Jana Vidis at IFB and Robbie Ross with Converged Communication Solutions – all received Shine the Light awards.

The judges said that PC Macdonald has shown “incredible initiative” when it comes to keeping people safe online in his constabulary.

“From engaging with primary school parents to leading online webinars and distributing Cybercrime Harm Prevention alerts, it was clear from those who nominated him that he has gone above and beyond the line of duty.”

Jude McCorry, chief executive of the SBRC, said: “Last night’s awards highlight that despite the challenges every one of us has faced over the last 12 months, there continues to be an incredible amount of good being done to elevate cyber education and awareness.

“With the programmes and contributions supporting a broad range of people – from young people and their parents to peers and other professionals – I take great pride in all that is being done to increase cyber resilience across Scotland.”

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