Small businesses to receive million-dollar cyber security boost

- November 20, 2023 3 MIN READ


The Albanese Government has announced a series of initiatives aimed at empowering small businesses to strengthen their cyber security resilience.

The 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy will introduce targeted support for small and medium businesses, acknowledging their vulnerability to cyber incidents.

Recognising that cyber attacks can inflict serious financial and reputational damage, the government is taking proactive steps to assist businesses that may lack the financial resources, time, and expertise required to ensure robust cyber security measures.

Key points
  • The government is committing $7.2 million for a voluntary cyber health-check program
  • The government has pledged an additional $11 million for the Small Business Cyber Resilience Service.
  • The initiatives are part of the broader 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy

Cyber health check

The government is earmarking $7.2 million for the establishment of a voluntary cyber health-check program.

The initiative allows businesses to conduct a free, tailored self-assessment of their cyber security. Through this health-check, businesses can evaluate the strength of their cyber security measures and gain access to educational tools and materials for upskilling.

Additionally, small and medium businesses with higher risk exposure will have access to a more sophisticated, third-party assessment to enhance security across national supply chains.

In a further commitment, the Albanese Government will invest $11 million in the Small Business Cyber Resilience Service. This service will provide one-on-one assistance to help small businesses navigate their cyber challenges, including guiding them through the steps to recover from a cyber attack.

These initiatives build upon the Albanese Government’s ongoing efforts to strengthen Australia’s privacy laws, ensuring that small businesses become less attractive targets for cyber criminals.

Small businesses essential in Australia’s cyber security response

Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security Clare O’Neill emphasised the government’s understanding of the challenges faced by small businesses when it comes to cyber security and assured business owners they are not on their own.

“The Australian Government’s cyber security strategy will make sure the support is available to help them understand and improve their own cyber security.

The strategy is underpinned by six cyber shields, with Strong businesses and citizens at the core of these shields. Uplifting the cyber security of our small businesses is integral to a cyber secure and resilient nation, and this dedicated support will make a huge difference in their preparedness and resilience,” O’Neill said.

Minister for Small Business, Julie Collins, underscored the importance of small businesses, describing them as the backbone of the Australian economy.

“That’s why the Albanese Government will continue to put them at the centre of our efforts to tackle cyber security threats and help uplift their cyber capabilities to create a stronger Australia. It’s just one way we’re working to improve the resilience of Australia’s small businesses.” Collins said.

This commitment to cyber security aligns with the broader national goal of making Australia a world-leading cyber-secure and resilient nation by 2030.

Advocates welcome announcement

COSBOA CEO Luke Achterstraat said that the practical initiatives were welcomed at a time when cyber risk remained a high concern for small business.

“43 per cent of all cyber crimes are targeted towards small businesses, with attacks costing the small business sector an estimated $2 billion a year. The average financial loss due to business-compromised email has risen to over to $50,000 per incident which itself can be terminal for many small businesses.

“Small business owners and employees are time-poor and often inadequately prepared for cyber threats. These programs open the door for small businesses to have the cyber conversation, receive a diagnosis and be referred to appropriate courses of action,” Achterstraat said.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson,  who has been a staunch campaigner for increased cyber support for small businesses, has welcomed the announcements.

“One of the biggest fears a small business has is that they will be targeted and wiped out by a cyber attack and we are pleased our strong advocacy for greater sector-wide support has been heard,” Billson said.

“The latest chilling report from the Australian Cyber Security Centre is that a cyber attack happens every six minutes and when a small business is hit, on average they suffer a financial loss of $46,000. Some never recover from the assault on their operations and their reputation and today’s announcement offers practical help to minimise the chance of being a victim and better prepare small businesses to bounce back,” Billson concluded.

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