THE battle to combat cyber crime is now being mounted by IT experts in Runcorn.

A team of ethical hackers and qualified consultants have secured £65,000 to carry out research and development as Xyone opens a new base at Sci-Tech Daresbury.

The company will be using cutting edge technology to tackle cyber crime which costs the UK economy £27 billion a year.

Stephen Robinson, Xyone managing director, said: ”Businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on digital processes, transactions and information and worryingly, attacks on networks and applications are growing in numbers at an exponential rate.

“Statistics show that many businesses are unaware of the security risks they face, whether through the internet or other business infrastructure, until sadly it is too late and they have been hacked.”

The funding has been provided via Bolton Business Ventures through the European Regional Development Fund and private investors.

Xyone plans to use the money to set up a dedicated Cyber Advisory Service in conjunction with Security Lancaster at Lancaster University, one of 11 cyber security centres of excellence in the UK.

The company is set to go live in the coming weeks and will offer small and medium sized businesses advice on what to do in the event of a cyber attack as well as how to prevent them.

Stephen added: “The cost of a severe cyber-security breach is estimated between £450,000 to £850,000 for large businesses and £35,000 to £65,000 for smaller ones so it is clear the devastating damage it can have.

“In particular, businesses in sectors such as legal, insurance and finance handle and store large amounts of confidential data so it is imperative they have secure systems in place. Protecting these key information assets is essential for the sustainability and competitiveness of businesses today.”

The company already has premises in Lancaster and Salford.