Small business urged to bridge the gender equality gap on cyber security
RELEASE EMBARGOED – MAR 8, 2023 6AM
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 www.cyberwardens.com.au
Younger Australians the least cyber safe generation
RELEASE EMBARGOED – JAN 16, 2023 6AM
As Australian small business owners grapple with how to protect themselves and their customers online, new research shows young Australians are less likely to be aware of cyber threats compared to their older counterparts.
Small business owners should not assume their young social media-savvy family members or employees have the know-how to defend their businesses from a cyber attack.
Australia’s first generation of digital natives are among the least aware of common cyber security threats such as identity theft and ransomware, according to a new survey of more than 2000 small business owners and employees by the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia’s Cyber Wardens program.
The survey findings signal a warning for small business owners who regularly rely on younger family members or employees to manage their technology and business social media.
Four in five Australian small business owners and employees are not confident in their ability to prepare for, fight and recover from a cyber threat.
The survey, which examined generational approaches to cyber security, found two-thirds (67 per cent) of Australian small business owners believe tech-savviness equates to cyber safety skills.
While Gen Z employees – those born after 1997 – may have grown up with Tiktok and Minecraft, the research suggests our first generation of digital natives are among the least cyber safe, lacking the awareness and key competencies of cyber security compared to their older colleagues.
The safest pair of hands in the small business community appear to be GenXers and upper Millennials in their 30s, who are the most likely to take cyber security seriously.
Despite the lower awareness of incoming threats compared to their older counterparts, Gen Z rate their skills to prepare for, fight and respond to cyber threats as on par to all other generations, suggesting inflated levels of confidence.
In good news, Gen Z is the generation most keen to learn more and help build a culture of cyber safety, with one in two Gen Z employees (55%) interested in participating in the Cyber Wardens program.
The Cyber Wardens program, developed in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and Telstra will be 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.
“A good first step is taking stock of who is responsible for your business’ cyber protection,” COSBOA Chairman Matthew Addison said.
“Don’t just assume your kids or younger employees are the safest pair of hands when it comes to online activity.”
CBA Chief Information Security Office, Keith Howard, said the Cyber Wardens program will give small business owners and their employees simple information and tools to stay safe online.
“With a focus on practical behavioural change rather than technical jargon, Cyber Wardens will arm small business employees and owners with simple steps to protect their personal and professional lives online. It’s great to be working closely with COSBOA and Telstra to help create a frontline defence against cyber threats with Australia’s 5 million-strong small business workforce, “ Mr Howard said.
Telstra Small and Medium Business Executive, Anne Da Cunha said the findings demonstrate the importance of a co-operative approach to cyber security across generations, industries and businesses both big and small.
“Australian small business owners have done it tough the past few years, emerging from COVID, navigating global supply chain issues and for some the impacts of natural disasters, the last thing they need is a cyber attack or scam to contend with,” Ms Da Cunha said
The Cyber Wardens pilot program will launch in early 2023. To be one of the first people to complete this training and better equip your small business against cyber risks, visit www.cyberwardens.com.au
For more tips and tricks to keep your small business safe follow @cyberwardens
New initiative to keep Australian small businesses safe online
Small business and corporate Australia are teaming up to tackle one of the greatest risks facing the country’s 2.3 million small businesses.
Australia’s biggest bank and telecommunications company have joined forces with the Council of SmallBusiness Organisations Australia (COSBOA) in a new initiative to help protect small businesses from cyberthreats and scams which costthe economy an estimated $29 billion a year1.
CommonwealthBank of Australia (CBA) and Telstra are the founding sponsors of COSBOA’s Cyber Wardens pilot program – which aims to become Australia’s first cyber safety workplace certification or microcredentialforthe small business sector.
The program will be designed by small business,for small business, aiming to upskillthe nation’s small business workforce and give owners and employees the tools they need to stay safe online,through a free and easy to use accredited e-learning platform.
According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), 43 per cent of all Australian cyber crime is directed at small businesses – costing small business owners almost $9,000 on average2. As online scams and fraud continue to rise, itis criticalthat Australia’s almost 5 million small business employees are supported to upskilltheir cyber safety knowledge.
COSBOA CEO Alexi Boyd says the aim ofthe Cyber Wardens program is to develop crucial skills training for small business owners who have felt powerless in the digital safety space. She notes thatfor many small businesses the struggle to upskill is made harder by limited resources,time and technology expertise.
“We believe that having a Cyber Warden on the team will help give small business owners the confidence thattheir business and customers are protected,” MsBoyd says.
“Australia’s innovative small business owners are used to wearing many hats but we can’tjust add anothertask to the to-do or ‘too hard’ lists.By targeting employees, as well as owners,the Cyber Wardens program will equip Australia’s small business workforce with the mindset, skillset and toolsetto more easily and safely engage with an increasingly digital world.
“With the support of Telstra and CBA, and I hope many more corporate partners, we can provide free, simple and accessible resources to the small business community. We wantto foster a culture of self determination and understanding in cyber safety — no IT degree, excel expertise and cloud wizardry required.”
CBA’s Group Executive forBusinessBanking, Mike Vacy-Lyle, says itis crucialthe small business sector is equipped with the skills it needs to stay safe online.
“Understanding a complex topic like cyber safety can be challenging and we are always looking for ways to better support small businesses in this space. We’re excited to launch the Cyber Wardens pilot program to help demystify cyber safety, instill a cyber-mindset and empower small businesses to identify and manage cyberthreats,” Mr Vacy-Lyle says.
For Telstra’s Small and Medium Business Executive, Anne Da Cunha, making cyber safety easy delivers clear benefits for small businesses.
“At Telstra we know that for busy small business owners, defending your business against cyber threats can feel overwhelming. The solution lies not just in protecting devices and your internet connection, but also the cyber safety culture you create,” Ms Da Cunha says.
“Managing small business risks online shouldn’t be like the dark arts — and the Cyber Wardens program will help show that there are easy proactive steps businesses can take that will help protect bottom lines, reputations and customers’ privacy.”
Designed specifically for non-tech employees, the Cyber Wardens pilot program will be rolled out in coming months to safeguard Australia’s 2.3 million small businesses and up skill everyday Australians to become our nation’s cyber security frontline.
Cyber Wardens will be trained based on the ACSC’s Essential Eight and will be empowered to:
Learn about common cyberthreats that could impact their business and keep their cyber safety knowledge up to date
Act as a cyber champion to help up lift the safety of the business, its employees and help protect their customers
Promote better practices for managing safer passphrases across small business
Implement cyber safety standards in their workplaces
Help small business have a risk mindset with how they run their business
Have the knowledge about where to get further support and report
COSBOA’s research3 found that 6 out of 10 small businesses feel unprepared and rate their cyber security as poor, could improve or only okay. The research also shows cost is the primary barrier to upgrading cyber security systems, which is why the Cyber Wardens program will be rolled out at no cost to small businesses.
Cyber Threat Factbox
A market research survey conducted by auDA Foundation and COSBOA revealed 59% of small businesses rate their cyber safety practices as poor, could improve or only okay.
Cyber attacks have grown in frequency since the start of the pandemic, with 67,500 reported attacks in 2020-2021 — a 13% increase on the previous year4.
The average reported a loss for business-compromised email attacks rose from $32,935 to $50,673 in FY20-21 alone5.
Average small business cyber insurance policies offering $10 million coverage rose 80% from $33,000 in 2021to $60,000 ii 2022 as the industry responded to increased attacks6.
Click here for media assets including COSBOA CEO Alexi Boyd video grabs, and Cyber Wardens moving vision and still images.
For more information about participating in the Cyber Wardens pilot program, please visit www.cyberwardens.com.au
For more tips and tricks to keep your small business safe follow @cyberwardens
Media enquiries: Alison Carabine +61 429 210 183
 Figure 4: Cybercrime reports and average reported loss by organisation size for financial year 2020–21, ACSC Cyber Threat Report 2020/21
 Conducted in February – March 2022 and based on surveys and interviews with 377 small businesses across Australia
 Executive Summary, ACSC Cyber Threat Report 2020/21
 Figure 9: Average reported losses per successful BEC cybercrime report made in financial year 2020–21 compared with financial year 2019–20, ACSC Cyber Threat Report 2020/21
 Cyber insurance premiums soar 80pc as claims surge, AFR, 12 September 2022