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COSBOA, Telstra and CBA team up as free SME cyber security course providers

To educate and provide tools to small Aussie businesses to help keep them protected from cyber threats, the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), Telstra, and the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) have launched a new program called Cyber Wardens.

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Tue, 18 Oct 2022
COSBOA, Telstra and CBA team up as free SME cyber security course providers
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According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), 43 per cent of cyber crimes target small businesses, costing them an average of $9,000.

Cyber threats and scams are estimated to cost the Australian economy $29 billion a year.

Cyber Wardens is based on the ACSC’s Essential Eight strategies, currently in its pilot stage, to help mitigate cyber crimes. This includes information security manual (ISM) mapping, assessing security vulnerabilities and application control.

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The e-learning platform will be designed by and for small businesses with an aim to become the country’s first cyber safety workplace certification for the small-business sector, according to COSBOA, which describes the concept of a cyber warden much like a fire warden, which is someone within a business who can help ensure the company is protected from threats.

Due to COSBOA identifying a lack of resources and time as key reasons why small businesses have difficulties with cyber security up-skilling, the Cyber Wardens program is set to be free. It also found that six out of 10 small businesses rate their cyber security as either poor, in need of improvement, or only OK.

Lack of resources makes cyber security difficult for small businesses, COSBOA added, listing the basic training offered in their Cyber Wardens program:

  • Know the unique cyber hazards and risks of your business.
  • Help keep passwords safe and data protected.
  • Be a point of contact for employees with cyber safety concerns and know how to quickly access expert help.
  • Promote reporting process for cyber threats, suspicious messages and hazards.
  • The Cyber Warning pilot program will be rolled out over the coming months.

Corporate partners such as Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank have made the free resource possible.

COSBOA chief executive Alexi Boyd noted that Australia’s innovative small-business owners are used to wearing many hats but won’t be able to add another task to the to-do or “too hard” lists.

“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.

“By targeting employees, as well as owners, the Cyber Wardens program will equip Australia’s small-business workforce with the mindset, skill set and toolset to more easily and safely engage with an increasingly digital world,” Boyd said.

Small businesses being more digitally savvy is great, according to COSBOA, but it does bring up the question of expertise and pay.

In an interview with SmartCompany, COSBOA outlined the best-case scenario would be that businesses could have an IT professional on staff or an ad hoc cyber security auditor look after their company, but resourcing and funding don’t always make that possible.

“The Cyber Warden program is not designed to replace expert IT advice and support.

“It focuses on providing small-business owners and their employees with the basic training needed to keep their workplaces safe online,” COSBOA stated.

If an employee for a small business completed this accreditation, it’s not quite the same as being a first aid officer or fire warden.

These roles tend to be more incidental, while cyber security is far more labour-intensive, ongoing and involves having processes and policies in place. It’s a lot of extra responsibility to fall on the shoulders of one or two people who already have jobs in the business.

If a Cyber Wardens program can be implemented in an ethical way that’s also effective, it could be a great resource for small businesses to help protect themselves and their customers, COSBOA concluded.

[Related: Palo Alto Networks launches free ‘CyberFit Nation’ education program]

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