Graduates in frontline

Ethical hackers hired to help combat cybercrime

digital economySome of the sharpest young computer graduates have been hired to help combat the threat of cybercrime on Scottish businesses.

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) has plundered Scotland’s world-renowned Ethical Hacking course to go on the offensive against the shadowy figures that prey on firms over the internet.

The five-strong ethical hackers team at SBRC are from Dundee’s Abertay University, which became the first in the country to offer a dedicated degree  course in Ethical hacking and Countermeasures.

They will provide crucial yet affordable services to protect companies – particularly vulnerable small firms – from e-criminals and scammers.

A recent survey by big four accountant PwC revealed that 90% of larger organisations and 74% of smaller businesses suffered a cyber attack last year, with an average cost per breach at larger organisations of near to £1.5 million.

Cybercrime can take many forms include theft of personal and customer data , scams and fraud, selling sensitive company data and sabotaging equipment.

SBRC Director Mandy Haeburn-Little said: “We have been working with digital forensic students and ethical hackers for some time now – it is another example of trying to find low cost, yet excellent quality solutions for small to medium sized businesses to keep them safe online.

“They are state of the art in terms of new learning in this field and really creative in their approach to supporting business.

“It’s the first time that a subsidised service has been provided to Scotland’s business community to root out where security breaches could happen or weaknesses in networks, passwords and privacy settings.

“The results from our ethical hackers are a real eye-opener. You think that you are being guarded and secure, but there is so much information available about your business that you cannot control – and, so much about individuals on line.”

The assessment can vary from a cyber footprint review which assesses what information is available online about a business or an individual and how that can be better managed, to a full online security test which looks to identify the risk of unauthorised intrusion from an external or internal source. The footprint service, for an individual can start from as little as £200 .

Other cyber assessments and reports can be done to test the robustness of a business’s supply chain, assessing how secure suppliers and sub-contractors are from breach.

Ms Haeburn-Little added: “We want to highlight that prevention is the best solution. Our team will give businesses the information and guidance they need to protect themselves.

“Our ethical hackers offer businesses cutting-edge cyber resilience advice at extremely competitive prices. We know that smaller firms are more likely to be a victim of cyber crime as they don’t invest as heavily in computer security. That’s why we have looked to make the costs of these services so affordable compared to what is available in the commercial sector.

“’d urge businesses to speak to us about how we can help them. To put it bluntly; this service could prevent a future data breach capable of putting them out of business or even put the safety of their staff at risk.”

The cost of the online security assessments for smaller companies starts at £1,500.

Last year, the Scottish Government gave a commitment in Programme for Government to develop and bring forward a cyber-resilience strategy that will take a positive approach to developing cyber resilience in Scotland, for the benefit of people and the Scottish economy.

A newly launched consultation; A Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland: Safe, Secure and Prosperous Online seeks to gather views on what can be done to raise awareness and increase resilience online.

The consultation form can be downloaded from:

For more information on the cyber assessment services, visit

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