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Government to provide additional cyber security support

by Josh Needs11 minute read

Brokers will have access to additional cyber safety measures after the government has revealed two new initiatives to help SMEs manage risks.

The federal government has revealed two additional initiatives to strengthen the cyber security capabilities of small and medium-sized businesses, investing over $18 million.

Brokers and brokerages that fall under the SME classification will have access to the voluntary cyber health check program and the small-business cyber resilience service as part of the forthcoming Australian Cyber Security Strategy.

The government revealed it would spend $7.2 million to establish a voluntary cyber health check program, which will enable businesses to undertake a free, tailored self-assessment of their cyber security maturity.


It stated that eligible businesses would be able to use the health check to determine the strength of their cyber security measures and access educational tools and materials needed to upskill.

Businesses with higher risk exposure will also get access to a third-party assessment as part of providing additional security across national supply chains.

The government revealed it would also invest $11 million in a small-business cyber resilience service, which will provide one-on-one assistance to help small businesses navigate their cyber challenges, including the recovery steps from a cyber attack.

Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security Clare O’Neil commented: “We understand the challenges that small businesses face in the complex world of cyber security, but they are not on their own.

“The Australian government’s cyber security strategy will make sure the support is available to help them understand and improve their own cyber security.”

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson welcomed the additional government support, adding that small businesses “can’t hope to have the same sophisticated resources and teams of cyber experts as larger companies who still fall victim to ever more sophisticated attacks”.

Mr Billson stated that the additional programs should be built into a “new right-sized privacy compliance framework for small business” after the government decided to remove the small-business exemption from the Privacy Act.

It followed his comments in September (following the removal of the Privacy Act exemption), where he requested “right-sized and appropriate requirements that are readily implementable by a small business”.

The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) also welcomed the additional measures, with its chief executive Luke Achterstraat praising the initiatives at a time when cyber risk remained a “high concern for small business”.

Mr Achterstraat stated: “Forty-three per cent of all cyber crimes are targeted towards small businesses, with attacks costing the small-business sector an estimated $2 billion a year. The average financial loss due to business-compromised email has risen to over $50,000 per incident, which itself can be terminal for many small businesses.

“These programs open the door for small businesses to have the cyber conversation, receive a diagnosis and be referred to appropriate courses of action.”

The additional measures announcement followed the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) last week revealing the results of its Cyber Pulse survey, which found 58 per cent of participants have limited or no capability to protect confidential information adequately.

The survey also found that 44 per cent of participants do not manage third-party or supply chain risk, a figure that ASIC chair Joe Longo labelled as “alarming”.

You can find out more about how brokers can protect their businesses from cyber attacks and the true cost of a data breach in the October edition of The Adviser magazine, here.

[Related: Industry welcomes Privacy Act obligation change]

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