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Small business urged to bridge the gender equality gap on cyber security

As Australians mark International Women’s Day, new research shows women are not as confident as men when it comes to preparing, managing and responding to cyber attacks even though they are less likely to be scammed compared to their male counterparts.

The country’s peak body for small businesses says it is critical women are supported in the workplace to help boost their confidence and understanding of the cyber risks associated with their roles.

A survey of more than 2000 small business owners and employees shows that while female business owners are less likely to be scammed compared to their male counterparts, they’re not as confident as men when it comes to their general cyber security knowledge.

Of those surveyed, almost half of the male-led small businesses (48%) said they had experienced a cyber security threat or incident either to themselves or their business, compared to just 41% for businesses surveyed that were female-led.

The survey is part of the Council of Small Business Organisations’ (COSBOA) Cyber Wardens program, developed in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and Telstra. The program is being rolled out this year to help safeguard Australia’s 2.3 million small businesses and lock the digital front doors of businesses across the country.

The survey signals a warning for small business owners about the importance of proper training for team members to empower them to protect themselves and their workplace from cyber risks.

“International Women’s Day is a good reminder for small business owners that beyond the gender pay gap, there are many other areas where urgent action is needed to make sure women are empowered and given the confidence to succeed in their roles at all levels,” said COSBOA Chairman Matthew Addison.

“With the Cyber Wardens program, small business owners can take matters into their own hands and ensure their business is protected from the risks of cyber attacks.”

“Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility. The Cyber Wardens program will equip business owners and their employees with the tools to stay safe online,” said CBA General Manager Small Business Banking Sara Sutton.

“The Cyber Wardens program will enable businesses to ensure everyone has the skills they need,” she said .

“This program is a frontline defence that will support Australia’s five million-strong small business workforce against cyber threats.”

Telstra Small and Medium Business Executive Anne Da Cunha said the findings reinforced the importance of training all team members within a business to ensure a collective approach to tackling cyber security risks.

“A true understanding of how to help ward off or deal with a cyber threat isn’t just important for the business owner but for their entire team so that everyone can work together to help build a safer working environment,” Ms Da Cunha said

The Cyber Wardens pilot program was launched in early 2023. To be one of the first people to complete this training and better equip your small business against cyber risks, visit

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