A hacker who snooped on Prince Philip’s private emails has been hired to help firms protect themselves against cyber criminals.

Robert Schifreen will lead halfday cyber-security courses at the University of Brighton to show businesses how to keep their information safe in the digital age.

He was arrested in 1985 for hacking into a British Telecom computer and accessing the Telecom Gold emails of Prince Philip.

He became the first person in the world to face a trial by jury in connection with computer hacking but was acquitted because there was no such offence at the time.

Now working in the University of Brighton’s Information Services department, Mr Schifreen has spent the last 20 years as a writer, broadcaster and commentator on all aspects of information security.

His lessons will cover howto use mobile devices safely, website security, disaster management, how to dispose of old PCs and understanding why hackers might want to target your business.

Mr Schifreen said: “The need for data security is never far from the headlines, and should never be regarded as unimportant by business owners.

“In the last few weeks we’ve heard howdata on up to six million people has been allowed to leak from Facebook, Google being accused of storing too much personal information, a young lady having her webcam illegally accessed by hackers, and governments accused of spying on every citizen’s internet usage.

“Securing your company’s critical information, to protect your secrets and to reassure your clients and customers, has never been more important.”

A recent report commissioned by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills highlighted the fact that small businesses are generally less well-prepared when it comes to IT security.

The courses take place on July 11 at the University of Brighton, on October 10 in Crawley, and December 12 at the University of Brighton.

The course costs £110. For more information go to brighton.ac.uk/business/opencourses.