A DETECTIVE seconded to head the new business cyber crime prevention group believes Scotland could become a world leader in the online security industry.

Detective Superintendent Steven Wilson has been appointed to run the Cyber Resilience Group under the banner of the Scottish Business Crime Centre.

In particular, DS Wilson is hoping to improve security and awareness of potential threats among Scotland's small and medium-sized businesses.

It is suggesting even a basic improvement in online security – such as making sure anti-virus software and firewalls are up-to-date – can substantially reduce the risk of online crime such as data theft and stolen customer details.

DS Wilson said: "Businesses must not fall into the trap of thinking cyber crime is the stuff of science-fiction and would never involve them.

"The digital landscape is constantly evolving and with cyber criminals able to strike unseen from hundreds or even thousands of miles away, e-crime can be notoriously difficult to detect.

"It is vital businesses protect their networks."

Part of DS Wilson's role is to co-ordinate activities between business, the Police Service of Scotland and universities.

He said: "Not only can this unified approach play a part in helping to reduce the dangers, there is the very real prospect of Scotland and Scottish businesses gaining a competitive advantage by developing a dynamic and potential lucrative security industry.

"Creating a cyber-secure Scotland makes Scotland a more stable economy to do business in.

"But by working closely with universities and industry experts to create cutting-edge solutions to e-crime, Scotland can position itself as a world leader in cyber-security excellence.

"It really is the true embodiment of turning a threat to an opportunity."

Many issues around cyber crime are being discussed at the e-crime Scotland summit later this month, with speakers including representatives from Microsoft and Sophos.

The initiative comes shortly after a report by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) suggested a lack of skilled workers is hampering efforts to fight cyber crime in the UK.

The IET warned that many SMEs do not give enough priority to cyber security threats and suggested more needed to be done to promote the likes of The Trustworthy Software Initiative, which exists to try to make software more secure, dependable and reliable.

In addition, the IET is also working with several other bodies to develop a sponsorship scheme for students to study for postgraduate qualifications in cyber security.