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Fighting cybercrime - David and Goliath style

(Image credit: Image Credit: Maksim Kabakou / Shutterstock)

The tech skills gap in the UK is no secret, and every year, cyber security rises up the business agenda. Today, putting the right protection and protocols in place to defend against the growing cyber risk is front of mind for boardrooms around the world but more needs to be done, which is why David and Goliath need to team up to tackle the issue head on.   

BAE Systems Applied Intelligence is working with Cyber London (CyLon) to support cyber start-ups and help boost UK’s cyber economy. The following article looks at some of the key themes and questions posed by an industry looking for answers on how to tackle a sometimes seemingly unrelenting issue. 

What is the current state of cyber security in the UK?   

Minister for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock, this week provided further warning at the Cyber Security Speech Institute of Directors Conference in London, stating the cyber threat in the UK is significant: he stated one in three small firms, and 65% of large businesses are known to have experienced a cyber breach or attack in the past year. Of those large firms breached, a quarter were known to have been attacked at least once per month. 

In addition, our recent global research into cybersecurity confirms that business leaders are taking the issue as seriously as they should. In fact, 71% of C-suite respondents said it is the most significant challenge their business faces today. What’s more 57% of the C-Suites and 79% of ITDMs think their business/ business they work for will be targeted by a cyber- attack in the next 12 months. 

What does the future look like for cyber security in the UK? OR With the current tech skills gap here in the UK, what will that mean for our future cyber security? 

There’s no doubt tackling this issue is a big challenge. Our same recent global research into cyber security shows that almost three quarters of ITDM respondents (72%) expect the number and severity of cyber-attacks to rise in the year ahead. With stats like this, it is therefore vital that business leaders are starting to think about their future cyber-skills requirements today, hiring the talent needed to ensure a thriving supply chain of skilled workers and ideas to address this growing need to halt the progress of cybercrime. 

What are organisations/ businesses doing to close this gap?  

This is where the relationships between established cyber organisations and accelerators like CyLon become so important, because they give start-ups the opportunity to innovate and come up with new and unique ideas to solve big technology problems. BAE Systems’ relationship with CyLon allows it to collaborate with start-ups and foster relationships to benefit the entire cyber industry, as well as the businesses that rely on its products and services.   

For many observers, cyber security in the long-term needs new and radical approaches, as well as rethinking and re-engineering. This is tough for established organisations to take on board and put into practice, but it’s exactly what start-ups do best. 

Why are programmes for cyber start-ups vital for the development of future cyber skills requirements today?   

It’s all about diversity. Big businesses have their perspective on the world, problems, and solutions, and younger companies have theirs. Start-ups bring a personal passion and drive to share their technology. They play by a different set of rules to the Goliaths’ of the world, allowing them to do things in a way that larger companies wouldn’t or can’t.   

With technology changing so fast, it provides an eye on the long-term, ensuring that companies focusing on today’s business are ready for what the future brings. Technology innovation is and will continue to make a huge difference in areas like financial services, healthcare, artificial intelligence, transportation, agriculture and cyber security. Because of their nature, start-ups are in a better position to come up with new ways to solve universal problems. 

A programme or company that can provide effective ways to help start-ups identify threats, defend systems and implement good practices is essential. Programmes like CyLon are vital for cyber start-ups and this development of future cyber skills because of the challenges they face when it comes to establishing themselves as a credible party. CyLon offers a mix of mentoring, commercial instruction, technical support and networking, all geared to the cyber security marketplace – with a credibility bonus of validation.   

How can start-ups benefit from programmes like CyLon? What can they take away that they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to without the program?   

One of the key bonuses in taking part in a CyLon programme is this assistance in helping to build credibility. This is so important, particularly today when one of the biggest obstacles facing cyber security start-ups lies in convincing the CTOs of potential customers to hand over their data or give access to their systems. 

Some of these start-ups have technology at their fingertips that needs to be trialled, tested or developed, some simply need the credibility and connections to be put in touch with customers, partners and investors.   

Through professional training, mentorship and access to the expertise of seasoned entrepreneurs, academics, government officials and other senior executives, including a number of BAE Systems’ own experts, start-ups in the programme can truly also take advantage of secure infrastructure when trialling their products.   

How can a business apply to participate in CyLon? What criteria do they have to meet? 

CyLon supports cyber start-ups or teams whose technology mitigates risks to the digital economy and the infrastructure upon which it sits. The accelerator is particularly suitable for companies who already have an early stage product or service developed, with a minimum of two founders willing to relocate to London for the duration of the programme. 

Teams can apply online at by Sunday 9th of July. CyLon will then contact the most promising teams and invite them for an interview day. At the end of that day, CyLon will decide which eight teams to welcome on board when the programme starts six weeks later. 

What type of innovations are these start-ups working on in the cyber domain? Any examples/ case studies?   

Every company that gets accepted into the CyLon programme is working on an innovative solution to an existing problem or a problem that will manifest in the future. They leave the programme with a validated view of their market potential having hopefully run some trials and created a sales pipeline. Some examples of the problems the companies are solving include: 

  • CheckRecipient – Stop people from accidentally sending e-mails to the wrong recipient
  • Immersive Labs – Cloud-based cyber assessment platform
  • Hook – Internal spear phishing campaigns to teach employees to spot e-mail attacks
  • drie – Build, deploy and scale apps in the cloud with AWS security best practices

Cylon Fast Facts: 

  • 39 companies accelerated
  • 103 jobs created
  • £10M+ raised
  • 1 acquisition
  • 37 companies still active
  • Founders from 25 countries

Richard Wilding, Director of New Ventures and Innovation at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence

Image Credit: Maksim Kabakou / Shutterstock

Richard Wilding
Richard Wilding is responsible for driving the future portfolio of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence through leading work in exploring future market trends, new business models and industry collaboration.