CUMBRIANS are set to benefit after Siemens partnered with cybersecurity software company Awen Collective to develop a new, accessible and affordable, managed OT security solution for SMEs.

The project has secured major backing from a consortium of North West-based organisations including the University of Manchester, the University of Salford, the North West Cyber Resilience Centre, BRIM and IN4.0 Group, who will support the project as it rolls out in the region, before looking to expand across the rest of the UK.

The collaboration will allow Cumbrian businesses to buy into a managed security solution, protecting any networked, internet-connected technology starting from £10,000. Ordinarily, setting up and maintaining a security operations centre can cost a business hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The solution is built on Awen Collective’s Dot software, which has been developed with the support of Siemens, and performs asset and vulnerability discovery on operational technology (OT), which covers everything from coffee machines to large industrial robots, including ICS, SCADA and IIoT systems.

According to the UK Government: Cybersecurity Breaches Survey 2022 half of small businesses (48 per cent) and six in 10 medium-sized businesses (59 per cent) report having been impacted by some kind of cyber breach or attack in the last 12 months.

Digitalisation and the growing networking of machines and industrial systems also mean that operational technology (OT) is at an increased risk of cyber attack. Indeed, new cybercrime incidents are reported every day by UK businesses.

Despite this, many SMEs do not prioritise cybersecurity support, thinking that they either cannot afford it or do not need it.

Paul Hingley, Product Solution and Security Officer UK and Ireland for Siemens Digital Industries, said: “The concept we have developed with the consortium has the potential to provide low-cost protection across the office and manufacturing space. It is a unique offering that will allow companies to build their cyber resilience while developing their business impact knowledge - a major step forward in improving the cyber maturity of our UK industry.”

Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital and co-founder of North West Cyber Resilience Centre, said: “There are increasingly sophisticated threats to cyber security within operational technology so we will continue to work with businesses and our partners to help all businesses protect themselves against cyber attacks.

“Businesses often don’t realise the potentially devastating effects of a cyber attack on their business until it’s too late, so our work begins at educating businesses owners around the threats, as well as offering advice and security solutions.”