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Published: 27th April 2023 | In: Insights, News

For Renfrewshire Council, situated in central, west Scotland, cyber security is about people and partnerships first and foremost. Technology simply provides the tools for people to collaborate to protect its assets and data, and minimise risk. How partners work together on all levels is crucial to strengthening the cyber security posture for the Council which, like all public sector bodies, needs to continuously defend itself against today’s threats and any that are just over the horizon.

Renfrewshire Council’s cyber security partnership with Quorum Cyber has grown from strength to strength since it began in 2019. Then, all Local Authorities in the UK needed to complete an annual Public Services Network (PSN) compliance health check, which consisted of vulnerability management and penetration testing among other assessments. Originally seeking professional support to pass their PSN health check, Quorum Cyber have since successfully tendered for more one-off engagements including advisory services.

Growing and learning together

Collaboration on projects has worked well, with both sides contributing and learning from each other along the journey and culminated in Renfrewshire Council partnering with Quorum Cyber when they tendered for a Security Operations Centre (SOC) team to monitor and protect their IT estate and multi-cloud environment around the clock. Quorum Cyber implemented the Microsoft Sentinel Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service in September 2022. The SOC team runs the MDR service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide comprehensive protection and peace of mind.

From day one of the relationship, the Council was clear that it wasn’t interested in a simple transactional service; it wanted to extend its security team to exchange ideas and knowledge, develop its own services and grow together with a partner it could trust and call upon at any time should a cyber security incident occur. They were attracted by Quorum Cyber’s fresh, honest approach to cyber security.

“Price is never the driving factor when it comes to security partners,” says Carol Peters, Cyber Security Architect at Renfrewshire Council. “It was important for us to join up with a company that was going to be a true partner and we wanted an interactive one that could react fast when necessary.

“That partnership was essential for us and we’ve always had a very good relationship with Quorum Cyber. They are willing to help us deal with any incidents quickly, even if they are out of scope of the contract, or out of hours.”

Serving around 180,000 citizens in west, central Scotland, Renfrewshire Council needs to keep its physical and digital operations running for schools, medical centres, transport, businesses and the whole community, without interruption.

Cyber security is a business issue

The Council shares Quorum Cyber’s belief that cyber security isn’t really a technology issue, but a business issue where risk needs to be managed holistically. In the event of a sudden, damaging cyber-attack, systems and tools could be taken out of action at very short notice, or no notice – it’s then an urgent problem for the business.

“It’s important that cyber security is seen to be a business enabler and my cyber security strategy is aligned to the Council’s,” says Carol. “Quorum Cyber knows our architecture, they know us and our approach to cyber security.”

Protecting the whole community

As in any organisation, while building a strong cyber security posture is important, people are often the greatest asset, but only if they understand cybercrime. Employees need to be trained in how to spot phishing emails, maintain good cyber hygiene and stay safe online. One click on a malicious email could open the door to a breach which, in turn, could result in a ransomware attack later on.

This is why the Council is serious about cyber security education and training. The Council partnered with Get Safe Online, the UK’s leading internet safety organisation and in 2019, the Council launched Ren Safe Online to teach citizens and employees about threats on the internet. The Council was also the first in Scotland to launch the Get Safe Online Ambassador training programme, training volunteers about online safety and how to recognise when someone is at risk of harm due to online threats such as scams or bullying. Ultimately, the Council’s long-term partnership with Quorum Cyber is a joint operation about protecting families, children and essential community services, and people’s data, identities and finances.