A technology startup from Edinburgh has signed a deal with the Government of Lithuania to help them fight illegal trading practices online.
The firm’s search engine plugin will be used to scan a website before a consumer makes a purchase, informing them whether the product they are buying has been traded illegally.
Vistalworks is carrying out the partnership with funding from the ‘Scotland CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund’, which includes support from the Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
The funding aims to help firms to create innovative products and supports public bodies in Scotland with up to 100% of funding for projects.
With the new deal, Vistalworks hopes to expand its search engine scanner to other countries and agencies worldwide to help the fight against illegal online trading practices.
Founder and chief executive of Vistalworks, Vicky Brock, commented: “We are hugely excited to be working on this project with GovTech Lab in Lithuania.
“Vistalworks has developed a really powerful intelligence service that lets enforcement agencies conduct risk-based targeting of illegal online sellers, as well as illicit goods.
“This work will result in a fully-translated and localised intelligence product, which could then be extended to other governments, enforcement agencies and consumer protection organisations across Europe.
“We already have a great international team here in Scotland, which is a testament to the brilliant universities and graduates the country has.
“Ultimately, illicit trade is a global, cross-border problem and we’ve always recognised that we need to build an internationally-focused solution to help governments tackle it.
“Scotland CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund provided great support through this process, and we are very grateful to them for that.”
The company has already developed online tools available on eBay to halt the spread of fake Covid-19 products including testing kits, illicit homemade sanitiser, and ‘miracle’ cures.
In September Vistalworks was also selected for Britain’s fintech growth programme to help secure the country’s position as a world-leader in the sector.
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Scotland is already a supporter of online cybersecurity protections, with the recent announcement of a new cybersecurity centre being set up by researchers at the University of Edinburgh.
The Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence Online (REPHRAIN) aims to explore some of the harms people are exposed to online, as well as promote increased privacy and safety measures.
Researchers work closely with partners in industry, the third sector and policymakers to develop new measures aimed at boosting privacy and security online.
A report released by think tank Reform earlier this month (October 2020) revealed that past public sector security failings are causing a spike in cybersecurity issues during the pandemic and called for a rethink of sector security to help combat it.
It was noted in the report that a spike in attacks was taking place across Europe and prompting fears over the “patchwork” nature of cybersecurity in the UK’s public sector.