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Investing in Cyber Security - The B SECURE Scheme

Publication Date: Jun 20, 2019

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Written by Katia Bonello

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The impact of cyber security incidents on today’s digitally dependant economies could be witnessed from the news feeds that are presented to us on the multiple platforms that we follow. Such incidents, resulting mostly from cyberattacks, could have a devastating impact on anyone of us and especially businesses whose online and digital presence is fundamental for their successful operation. A cyber security incident could easily turn into a crisis for businesses and their stakeholders who are ill-prepared for these events. This might consequently have a direct negative impact on their balance sheets and reputation. In fact, it is estimated that cyber incidents cost the global economies 400 billion euros each year. The WannaCry and (Non)Petya attacks alone, where data was encrypted demanding ransom payments, have costed our economies around 100 billion euros in damages. More worrying is that this brought hospitals and international shipping lanes to a standstill.

12 - g6H6A0569.jpgAccording to the 2017 State of the Union report, 69% of companies have no or just a basic understanding of their exposure to cyber risks, 60% have never estimated the potential financial losses from a major cyberattack and 51% of European citizens feel that they are either not well informed or not at all informed about cyber threats. The 2018 State of the Union report does not highlight any advancements to the overall cyber security posture. In fact, the analysis shows that security incidents across all industries rose by 38%, the biggest increase in the past 12 years where some Member States confirmed that half of all crimes they suffered were cybercrime related.

Closer to home, a survey that was conducted amongst Maltese businesses in the last quarter of 2018 shows that 40% of the respondents were directly affected by a cyber security incident, with the attack vectors ranging from fraudulent emails or scam calls, the unknowing installation of malicious software or ransomware. Unsurprisingly, 83% of the large organisations that participated in the survey confirmed that they were a victim of at least one cyber security incident. The more moving parts an organisation has, the more susceptible it becomes. Hence, given the size of large organisations, their attack surface is bigger because of the larger amount of people that they employ and/or transact with which results in a larger number of transactions and communication channels.  On the other hand, small firms were the mostly affected types of enterprises from the Micro, Small to Medium sized Enterprises, occupying 46% of the total number of respondents that were affected in this group. In the light of this, most of the respondents (75% of SMEs and 83% of large organisations) agreed on the importance to undertake a cyber risk assessment to assess their digital assets to ensure cyberattack readiness.

13 - 6H6A0607.JPGUnfortunately, the question to ask when it comes to cyberattacks is not whether we will be targeted but rather when we will be hit and what will be the consequences. There are various initiatives organisations can take to limit the frequency and also the repercussions of cyberattacks. These measures vary including basic cyber security principles which can be easily implemented that will have an immediate effect, long-term checks on systems by specialists in the security field, and above all cyber security awareness. In its commitment towards enhancing cyber security on a national level, MITA in collaboration with the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation has embarked on a project to promote and strengthen cyber security preparedness in the private sector through the B SECURE Scheme which was announced by Hon. Silvio Schembri on 13th June during an event held at the Chamber of Commerce. 

14 - 6H6A0634.JPGMITA is mandated by the National Cyber Security Strategy Steering Committee to lead the National Cyber Security Awareness and Education Campaign.  The Campaign is targeting a wide spectrum of audiences, ranging from the general public to specific groups such as students, public sector and also local businesses.  This Scheme is intended to be an integral part of the Campaign specifically addressing the private sector, whose stability is indispensable for the Maltese economy. Through the B SECURE Scheme, the private industry can apply for assistance in assessing the posture of their digital assets against the latest cyber security threats and also to further the education of their employees through training being offered, giving participants the possibility to earn certifications recognised world-wide in the cyber security domain. This Scheme will open during Quarter 4 2019, with services being offered throughout year 2020.

The Government of Malta is investing a quarter of a million Euro in this project. The ultimate objective of this Scheme is to instil a cyber security culture within the local private sector irrespective of the size or the sector businesses operate within. It is a golden opportunity for the businesses to evaluate, plan and enhance their cyber security posture because cyber security is everyone’s responsibility.  Ultimately, it will place Malta in a better position when it comes to cyber security preparedness. Understandably, this will not be attained through a onetime exercise, but the Scheme would serve as the basis for further strengthening.