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Dean Smith: Growing in the dark

Why cyber safety is not just for big business. For Dean Smith, the birth of his mushroom farm, Tunnel Hill Mushrooms, was a happy accident.

The former electrician purchased a house in Mount Rumney, outside Hobart, Tasmania, which happened to have an old railway tunnel on the title.

One weekend a former mushroom farmer knocked on his door and suggested the decommissioned tunnel could be the perfect place to start growing mushrooms.

He was right. 

After experimenting with a number of mushroom varieties, Dean modified the tunnel to suit commercial-scale production and now supplies a host of Tasmanian restaurants and cafes with gourmet mushroom varieties like Black Pearl Oyster, Pink Oyster, Reishi and Shiitake.

“There’s only two of us in Australia that use an old tunnel for mushroom farming,” he said.

“So it’s quite a unique spot with a lot of Tassie rail history attached to it.”

The unique growing environment has also made Tunnel Hill Mushrooms a perfect destination for agritourism and Dean is now working on plans to host a local mushroom festival with other growers.

“Up until a couple years ago, I was focussed on trying to grow mushrooms as best I could, but in the past two years there’s been a lot of interest in me developing it for agritourism,’’ he said

“So that’s sort of where it’s headed because that’s a point of difference from everybody else.’’

Cyber risk to small business

Between growing mushrooms and working to develop agritourism opportunities, Dean said he didn’t have much time to worry about cyber security and used to assume small businesses weren’t the main target of cyber criminals.

“You always hear about the big companies being held for ransom or whatever … but that’s not the case,’’ he said.

“I guess I was a bit naive about the whole thing, because I’m not that tech savvy and I don’t really have a lot of time to keep an eye on it.”

After completing the Cyber Wardens course, Dean said he now appreciates the real risks to small businesses from cyber criminals.

While Dean said he was confident in his ability to spot email scams or emails that were “too good to be true”, he now feels more confident in some of the other steps he can take to better protect his business.

“I think a lot of people will be like me, either they’re not too confident, or don’t have the time, or find it a bit daunting,” he said

“But, it’s not that hard and it doesn’t take a lot of time to put a few things in play that will protect your business.”

The importance of a strong password

After completing the Cyber Wardens course, Dean said he would take regular steps to improve his cyber security, starting with improving the strength and variety of his passwords.

“I am one of those people who in the past has had the same two or three passwords for everything,” he said.

“The Cyber Wardens training is an important reminder that making strong, unique passwords is a quick and easy way to protect your business.”

Dean said the Cyber Wardens course helped him realise that taking steps to protect your business from cyber attacks was not that daunting.

“It only takes a few simple steps routinely to protect yourself a bit better than I currently have been,” he said.

“It doesn’t take a lot of time to put a few things in play that will protect your business and I think if I can do it, I think anybody can do it.”

With Cyber Wardens, you can keep your digital floors clean and free of cyber criminals fishing.

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