The A11 technology corridor will stretch between Norwich and Cambridge, and is tipped to become the UK’s newest hotspot for economic growth. With Cambridge’s growing popularity and standing as a world-class academic and research centre, thousands of jobs and hundreds of thousands of square metres of employment space could be opened up along the 64-mile route between the two cities.
John Fuller, the leader of South Norfolk Council, said: “We are trying to get together a series of investment opportunities so that we can harness the growth. There’s no point doing the hard work in getting people to the universities, developing them and then letting them and their ideas go.”
With seven councils and two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) backing the project it is already seen as an extremely attractive space for investors. In fact it is expected to create £558m in economic growth within the area over the next 15 years.
The threat to the technology corridor
According to the Cambridge Cluster Map, which is put together by Cambridge Ahead and Cambridge University, there are currently 21,824 businesses based in Cambridgeshire alone, 99.28% of which are classed as a small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As the number of SMEs in the county increases because of the tech corridor, so will the number of security threats.
The Federation of Small Businesss (FSB)’s report Cyber Resilience: How to protect small firms in the digital economy found that 66% of SMEs have been a victim of cyber crime in the last two years, and those affected have, on average, been victims four times over this period. The cost of this equates to £3,000 per business.
With 99% of UK SMEs reliant on the Internet for the majority of their business, these threats could stifle the business growth of the A11 technology corridor. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “The digital economy is vital to small businesses – presenting a huge opportunity to reach new markets and customers – but these be
nefits are matched by the risk of opportunities for criminals to attack businesses.”
Securing the technology corridor
The FSB report highlights that SMEs are concerned about their security and are working hard to overcome these issues, but they are the least able to bear the cost of doing so. Efforts are being made, with 80% of SMEs found to be using computer securing software and 53% performing regular updates of their IT systems, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Securing the SMEs moving into the A11 technology corridor from cyber attacks is extremely important for its future success. One way of protecting themselves from up to 80% of common cyber attacks is to seek certification to the Cyber Essentials scheme. This UK-government-backed scheme focuses on five key security controls that, when implemented correctly, can dramatically boost the security of an SME. These are boundary firewalls and Internet gateways, secure configuration, access control, patch management, and malware protection.