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Scottish Businesses Warned to Update Cybersecurity Over Christmas

Michael Behr

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Scottish Scotland cybersecurity Christmas
Cybercriminals frequently take advantage of downtime and holidays to strike organisations when they’re vulnerable.

The CyberScotland Partnership, an organisation dedicated to providing cybersecurity guidance, has called on Scottish businesses to update and review their security protocols and incident response plans.

The group warned that the upcoming Christmas and New Year break means fewer people ‘on the ground’ as workers take holidays. However, this can potentially result in less oversight of critical systems, making businesses more vulnerable to attack.

Cybercriminals frequently use this downtime as an opportunity to strike, meaning business leaders must think ahead on how to stay safe.

A pertinent example of this was the attack that took place on the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) last year. The organisation fell victim to a ransomware attack, which began on Christmas Eve.

The attack resulted in more than 4,000 stolen files and around £2 million in lost income. The organisation has since acknowledged that it lacked an immediate incident response plan and has been keen to highlight the importance of making strong plans and preparation to keep an organisation secure for whenever a cyberattack might hit.

Furthermore, the organisation still has not fully recovered from the attack.

To mitigate such an occurrence this Christmas, the CyberScotland Partnership is directing business to its resource library of actionable advice to update their cyber security precautions.

Top advice from the Partnership includes:

  • Have an incident management plan: 1 in 10 organisations do not have an incident management plan. If an organisation is one of these, they should address this immediately and make sure physical copies are available should systems be disabled. The first step is looking at ‘what an incident would look’ for your organisation.
  • Make sure data is secure: Business need to know what data they have if they are going to secure it. Regularly auditing data is important to ensure appropriate protections are in place especially for transferring data or storing data for prolonged periods such as during the Christmas break.
  • Back up data using the ‘3-2-1’ rule: This is a popular strategy which can prevent you facing be used in most scenarios to provide a robust safeguard for your systems. Have at least 3 copies, on 2 devices, and 1 offsite backup.
  • If you are attacked, know who to call on: The Scottish Business Resilience Centre’s (SBRC) cyber incident response helpline for those who think they have been the victim of a cyber attack is available on 01786 437 472.

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The CyberScotland Partnership was formed back in February of this year by 10 organisations, including the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) and the Scottish Government. The group was formed to promote Scottish cybersecurity and resilience.

Chair of the CyberScotland Partnership Jude McCorry said: “In the lead up to the festive break, businesses need to think ahead about their cybersecurity and keep themselves safe. Staff will be looking forward to a much-deserved holiday, but businesses must remember that will leave some of their critical systems unmonitored. The best way to secure your cyber security over this period is to create a plan and prepare your response if a cyber attack occurs.

“To support businesses, the CyberScotland Partnership have curated easy to action resources and information that business can use to make sure they have robust plans in place. The resources cover topics from; what is included in an incident response plan to signposting relevant partners such as Police Scotland and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre who run cyber incident helplines.

“The important thing for Scottish businesses to do is to think ahead and act early to protect their critical data and assets.”

Michael Behr

Senior Staff Writer

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