Small businesses need hands-on help with cyber security

Firms confront too much information but insufficient practical guidance when it comes to digital lockdown, says COSBOA.


Vulnerable small businesses need help with cyber security as part of the government’s push to make Australia the most digitally locked down nation by 2030, according to the sector’s representative body.


COSBOA chair Matthew Addison said the missing ingredient in the 2023–30 Australian Cyber Security Strategy was how small firms could implement appropriate systems.

“Small businesses tell us that they hear about cyber security risks but don’t know what to do or if they can do anything,” said Mr Addison. 

“They also tell us there is so much information they don’t understand.” 

He said COSBOA supported “action-based behaviour change information for small businesses” and that the development of its Cyber Wardens model was to “enable education and enhanced security for the people in small business.” 

The council said the goal of its submission was to advocate greater education services, investment in cyber security infrastructure, and a balanced approach to its regulatory requirements for small businesses. 

One of its recommendations was that any legislative changes or reforms regarding cyber security that the government enacted should be accompanied and supported by government-endorsed best practice guidelines to help small businesses understand how to follow the change. 

COSBOA also recommended government support for educational programs such as Cyber Wardens — which it launched in association with CBA and Telstra — which would supply practical advice on how small businesses could ensure they were compliant with introduced regulations.  

The organisation said an expansive roll-out of its Cyber Warden program as a designated cyber essentials certification scheme would strengthen and support the uptake of cyber security services and technologies in Australia. 

“Subscription to the scheme would enable small businesses the capacity to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data stored on devices that connect to the internet,” said the submission. 

“The Cyber Warden scheme would form a cornerstone of the strategy and would establish a set of baseline technical controls to help SMEs improve their cyber defences and publicly demonstrate their commitment to cyber security.” 

COSBOA also advocated against the penalisation of firms for non-compliance, as the council sought to protect small businesses from further penalties as they recover from the pandemic and several economic challenges. 

Family Business Australia’s acting chief executive Andrea Moody said the organisation supported an expanded role out of COSBOA’s Cyber Wardens program.

“Family Business Australia is proud to support the Cyber Wardens program, we believe this initiative will provide valuable training and resources to help individuals and organisations protect themselves against cyber threats,” said Ms Moody. 

“As family-owned businesses are often targets of these threats, it is crucial to educate our members and the broader community about cyber security best practices.”



Josh Needs
19 April 2023

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