500 companies receiving government assistance for cyber attacks – SMEs urged to develop their own plans

Hundreds of companies are receiving assistance from the Government’s Computer Emergency Response Team in case the sensitive information they contain is leaked due to an increase in the number of cyber attacks launched at corporations. 

But experts say the list highlights the need for small businesses to increase their own security methods as the number of attacks continues to grow, potentially threatening the livelihood of digital entrepreneurs.

“This revelation doesn’t come as a surprise, but I think it’s fair to say this is a good thing. This is a confirmation for small businesses that what they are doing in protecting their data is smart,” says AVG security advisor Michael McKinnon.

According to The Australian, 500 companies are now receiving assistance from the Government’s CERT team, which is part of the Attorney General’s department.

“Systems of national interest include banking and finance, communications, energy, food, resources, transport and water services and include those represented in the Trusted Information Sharing Network,” a spokesperson told the publication.

The department was contacted this morning by SmartCompany to define what assistance is being provided, but no reply was available prior to publication.

However, experts suggest this assistance would include access to experts who can assist in the event of a cyber attack, especially in the hours after an attack has occurred.

“I’m speculating here, but I would presume these companies would have a hotline to CERT in order to respond to situations with an attack involved,” McKinnon says.

“It’s good to see this level of organisation being provided by the Government. It’s not terribly surprising, because breaches do occur. It’s good to see this type of information protected.”

The revelation of the list of 500 companies in strategic areas is a confirmation of the growth of state-sponsored cybercrime. More attacks are being launched as a type of warfare, attempting to take down critical pieces of infrastructure or consumer services.

But McKinnon says small businesses should take this as an example – and start producing their own plans for how to deal with security breaches. Plenty of SMEs have suffered attacks in the past – both Lush and Distribute IT were attacked last year – and small businesses are regularly targeted.

“If we focus on what the ramifications of this are for small businesses, this is a confirmation that security is so important. The Government takes what they consider to be critical and then protect – so what do business owners see as being critical to them?”

McKinnon says business owners must identify which information is crucial to their business – such as customer details – and then protect it.

“Whatever is critical is a matter of perspective. All business owners want to protect themselves, and if anything this is news that it’s more important than ever.”

“Businesses have a whole ecosystem that needs to be protected.”

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