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New initiative to keep Australian small businesses safe online

Small business and corporate Australia are teaming up to tackle one of the greatest risks facing the country’s 2.3 million small businesses.

Australia’s biggest bank and telecommunications company have joined forces with the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) in a new initiative to help protect small businesses from cyber threats and scams which cost the economy an estimated $29 billion a year.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Telstra are the founding sponsors of COSBOA’s Cyber Wardens pilot program - which aims to become Australia’s first cyber safety workplace certification or microcredential for the small business sector.

The program will be designed by small business, for small business, aiming to upskill the nation’s small business workforce and give owners and employees the tools they need to stay safe online, through a free and easy to use accredited e-learning platform.

According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), 43 per cent of all Australian cyber crime is directed at small businesses - costing small business owners almost $9,000 on average. As online scams and fraud continue to rise, it is critical that Australia’s almost 5 million small business employees are supported to upskill their cyber safety knowledge.

COSBOA CEO Alexi Boyd says the aim of the Cyber Wardens program is to develop crucial skills training for small business owners who have felt powerless in the digital safety space. She notes that for many small businesses the struggle to upskill is made harder by limited resources, time and technology expertise.

“We believe that having a Cyber Warden on the team will help give small business owners the confidence that their business and customers are protected,” Ms Boyd says.

“Australia’s innovative small business owners are used to wearing many hats but we can’t just add another task to the to-do or ‘too hard’ lists.By targeting employees, as well as owners, the CyberWardens program will equip Australia’s small business workforce with the mindset, skillset and toolset to more easily and safely engage with an increasingly digital world.

“With the support of Telstra and CBA, and I hope many more corporate partners, we can provide free, simple and accessible resources to the small business community. We want to foster a culture of self determination and understanding in cyber safety — no IT degree, excel expertise and cloud wizardry required.” CBA’s Group Executive for Business Banking, Mike Vacy-Lyle, says it is crucial the small business sector is equipped with the skills it needs to stay safe online.

“Understanding a complex topic like cyber safety can be challenging and we are always looking for ways to better support small businesses in this space. We’re excited to launch the CyberWardens pilot program to help demystify cyber safety, instill a cyber-mindset and empower small businesses to identify and manage cyberthreats,” Mr Vacy-Lyle says.

For Telstra’s Small and Medium Business Executive, Anne Da Cunha, making cyber safety easy delivers clear benefits for small businesses. “At Telstra we know that for busy small business owners, defending your business against cyber threats can feel overwhelming. The solution lies not just in protecting devices and your internet connection, but also the cyber safety culture you create,” Ms Da Cunha says.

“Managing small business risks online shouldn’t be like the dark arts — and the Cyber Wardens program will help show that there are easy proactive steps businesses can take that will help protect bottom lines, reputations and customers’ privacy.”

Designed specifically for non-tech employees, the Cyber Wardens pilot program will be rolled out in coming months to safeguard Australia’s 2.3 million small businesses and upskill everyday Australians to become our nation’s cyber security frontline.

Cyber Wardens will be trained based on the ACSC’s Essential Eight and will be empowered to:

● Learn about common cyberthreats that could impact their business and keep their

cyber safety knowledge up to date

● Act as a cyber champion to help uplift the safety of the business, its employees and help

protect their customers

● Promote better practices for managing safer pass phrases across small business

● Implement cyber safety standards in their workplaces

● Help small business have a risk mindset with how they run their business

● Have the knowledge about where to get further support and report


COSBOA’s research found that 6 out of10 small businesses feel unprepared and rate their cyber security as poor, could improve or only okay (3). The research also shows cost is the primary barrier to upgrading cyber security systems, which is why the Cyber Wardens program will be rolled out at no cost to small businesses.



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