Scotland’s businesses and charities will be supported to put in place better protection against cyber attacks, the Scottish Government said.

The private and third sector action plans on cyber resilience aim to increase awareness of cyber threats and to promote good practice to defend against them, with a strong focus on practical steps to support smaller organisations, it said in a statement.

“The Scottish Government will work with leading third and private sector organisations to help make Scotland a world leading nation in cyber resilience.

“Half a million pounds will also be available from the autumn to help organisations achieve the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Essentials certification, which helps protect against the most common forms of internet-borne cyber attacks.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Cyber threats are growing and it is vital, as part of our ambitions as a modern, digital nation, that our businesses and charities understand this. They must also be supported to take steps to protect themselves.

“No organisation, however large or small, is immune. Attacks are as real a risk to the small bakery or charity that relies on a database to operate effectively as they are to the multinational banking organisations in our financial districts.

“These plans set out how we will work in partnership with some of Scotland’s leading businesses and charities to help tackle this threat and are an important steps towards our ambition to be a world-leading nation in cyber resilience.”

Dave McClure, Head of GBFM Security Contract Delivery, BT, who is also the lead private sector representative on the National Cyber Resilience Leaders’ Board, said: “Cyber crime increasingly crosses international borders and only by working together across multiple sectors can we combat the threats posed to our increasingly digital society.

“This new action plan, developed by our cyber security community, will provide support to organisations of all sizes.  BT is delighted be a part of this cyber security community.”

David McNeill, Digital Director of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, who is the lead third sector representative on the National Cyber Resilience Leaders’ Board added: “Third sector organisations are trusted to make the best use of funds and keep personal data secure, but face the same threats from cyber criminals as everyone else.

“SCVO are delighted to be taking part in the Cyber Catalyst Working Group, working with partners to support the implementation of the Action Plan and to help build a more digitally confident third sector in Scotland.”

The Private and Third Sector Action Plans on Cyber Resilience were developed by the Scottish Government in partnership with the National Cyber Resilience Leaders’ Board (NCRLB), the NCSC and key private and third sector organisations.

A key action is the establishment of cyber catalyst working groups which will lead on increasing awareness of cyber threats and spreading good practice to defend against them.