[WATCH] Close to 50% of Malta’s businesses have been cyber attacked

The government has launched a new scheme designed to bolster the private sector’s defenses against cyber threats, offering risk assessment and training opportunities for firms

Parliamentary secretary Silvio Schembri
Parliamentary secretary Silvio Schembri
Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri launches cyber security scheme

The government has launched a new scheme designed to bolster the private sector’s defenses against cyber threats, offering risk assessment and training opportunities for firms.

As cyber attacks become more common and increasingly dangerous for private entities, the "B Secure" scheme aims to entice local firms to evaluate and plan the enhancement of their cyber security posture, whilst creating a culture of more awareness of the risks of such attacks.

The scheme was launched in the wake of a global increase in cyber attacks, with a Maltese study having shown that 40% of local businesses have fallen victim to cyber attacks.

The study indicated that 83% of large organisation have suffered at least one cyber security incident.

The main types of attacks are fraudulent emails, scam calls, and the surreptitious installation of malicious software and ransomware.

The B Secure scheme, which will require an initial government investment of €250,000, was launched by Digital Economy parliamentary secretary Silvio Schembri on Wednesday during Malta’s first Cyber Security Summit.

It will see company executives trained regarding the recent cyber threat landscape, how they can mitigate potential breaches and how to address cyber security incidents and adapt a cyber hygiene mentality.

The cyber training will include courses for systems auditors and managers. A tech-partner will be provided to deliver training, assess risk and draft a report listing the vulnerabilities found in the company and the mitigation measures needed.

In comments to BusinessToday, Schembri said that, while the government was well-prepared to deal with cyber attacks, it wanted to ensure that private industry was also ready to deal with the problem

“Malta is investing heavily in digital industries, which makes us more prone to receiving an attack. We’ve also recently seen [cyber attack] incidents, locally, which could have had a devastating effect on the country,” he said.

“Although as a government we invested heavily in cyber infrastructure through the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA), and are well defended, we need to ensure the private sector is just as well protected.”

The scheme would be the first step for companies to be assessed for gaps which can be used as a route for cyber attacks, he said. In order to make this benefit more long-term, key people in the company would also receive training.

“It is then up to the company to continue building up its resilience,” Schembri said, noting that a large portion of companies which were cyber attacked had their business fail within six months.

Addressing the conference, Schembri said that the government and the international community at large had placed cyber security at the top of its agenda, with national funds for MITA having been increased in the recent Budget.

“The government fully thinks that cyber security should also be on the agenda of private industry. It is an issue which affects us all,” he said.

“Cyber threats are constantly evolving, both in a global and local context, so we must anticipate them and be prepared,” Schembri said, highlighting that companies which did not build their resilience to such attacks risked losing millions of euro in the event that they are targeted.

“The questions becomes: when, not if, this will this happen to me, and how much will a cyber attack cost? And you don’t even want to imagine the cost… we know of a case where a business was destroyed because of a cyber attack,” Schembri said.

The services offered by the scheme will commence in January 2020, with 220 people expected to be trained.

Registration, on a first come first served basis, opens today for all private companies, and closes on 24 November.

The Cyber Security Summit was organised by Cyber Security Malta in collaboration with the Digital Economy Parliamentary Secretariat, MITA, the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Tech.mt.

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