SMEs need to take action more on cyber security, and the Council of Small Business Australia says it’s focused on educating and supporting businesses in a time where there seem to be “more crisis situations” facing them than ever before.
COSBOA has this month launched a cyber security action plan for SMEs aimed at tackling education, prevention and data recover top help limit the damage caused by increasingly stealthy attacks on their systems.
The group’s chief executive Peter Strong told SmartCompany this morning cyber security for Australian SMEs was a “huge issue” getting more serious by the day, but small businesses don’t have the resources to comprehensively protect themselves against cyber attacks.
“The nature of the money and organisation of big business is that they have the resources to combat cyber attacks, where small businesses have to focus on running their business,” Strong says.
“Twenty years ago not every business had alarms on their premises, and these days you’d be silly not to have one, it’s part of the culture.
“We’re taking action to deal with cyber security now and make it part of the culture. We don’t want it to take 20 years for SMEs to get serious about it.”
Recently the world was rocked by a ransomware attack of unprecedented scale known as “WannaCry”, which locked up users’ data and asked for a significant ransom to decrypt the files. Businesses across the world found their systems suddenly unusable, with the attack even knocking out part of the UK’s National Health Service.
Despite the spate of recent attacks, COSBOA has been working on its cyber security strategy for a while, and says there are three key “pillars” to help support SMEs.
“We’re looking [at] what the government can do to help, what business associations can do to help, and how businesses can help themselves,” Strong says.
The council will seek to further SMEs’ education around cyber security and encourage staff training, with Strong saying while businesses may be aware of cyber security threats, many haven’t done anything about it.
“SMEs are in need of more education around cyber security, 34% of businesses don’t have any form of antivirus software,” he says.
“Cyber attacks are serious issues. They can destroy a business, and by extension, destroy a family.”
A draft communiqué from yesterday’s COSBOA forum provided to SmartCompany shows the training will be offered through an online course available to COSBOA members, outlining what measures businesses can undertake to minimise the threat of cyber attacks.
Secondly, COSBOA will seek to ensure businesses are protected through anti-virus and anti-malware software, which will be discounted through a partnership with Norton.
COSBOA will look to make insurance available and more affordable for businesses to ensure they are protected in the case of a cyber attack.
Whilst the main focus is on changing the culture around cyber security, Strong says the small business community is also looking at ways to protect businesses against other “key threats”, including natural disasters, telecommunication outages, and unplanned blackouts.
“Telecommunication outages can destroy a business when your Eftpos machine or website is knocked out for a week or more,” Strong says.
“On top of that, I feel like we’re seeing more cyclones and bushfires, and total blackouts the likes of which I haven’t seen in my lifetime.
“There seem to be more crisis situations facing businesses than ever before.”