The Albanese Government has signed off a new 2023-2030 Australian Cyber Security Strategy which includes support for small and medium businesses that are more vulnerable to cyber incidents.

This includes a $7.2 million commitment to establish a voluntary cyber health-check program, that will allow businesses to undertake a free, tailored self-assessment of their cyber security maturity.

According to the Federal government, businesses can use this health-check to determine the strength of their cyber security measures, and access educational tools and materials they need to upskill.

Small and medium businesses with higher risk exposure will also be able to access a third‑party assessment to provide additional security across national supply chains.

The Albanese Government will also invest $11 million in the Small Business Cyber Resilience Service which will offer one-on-one assistance to help small businesses navigate their cyber challenges, including walking them through the steps to recover from a cyber attack.

Minister for Small Business, Julie Collins said small businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy, making up 97 per cent of all Australian businesses.

“That’s why the Albanese Government will continue to put them at the centre of our efforts to tackle cyber security threats and help uplift their cyber capabilities to create a stronger Australia,” Collins said.

Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security Clare O’Neil said small businesses face challenges in the complex world of cyber security.

"But they are not on their own,” O’Neil said. “Uplifting the cyber security of our small businesses is integral to a cyber secure and resilient nation, and this dedicated support will make a huge difference in their preparedness and resilience."

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomed the new cyber security measures, alongside other introduced initiatives.

In the past week, the NSW Government has also proposed reform to the Emergency Services Levy, reducing the cost of insurance premiums for small and medium businesses.

The Federal Government also recently passed legislation allowing small businesses a $20,000 instant asset write-off and 20% in bonus tax deductions to invest in energy efficient assets and upgrades to improve their long-term resilience and to save on their energy bills.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said amid the current economic pressures, it is very difficult for small businesses to invest in cyber security.

“For small businesses, it is certainly a period of economic crisis – off the back of a brutal few years of disruption,” Zahra said.

“Our small retail community is feeling the crunch as shoppers scrutinise their spending and costs continue to increase across the board – wages, rent, utilities, insurances, and supply chain costs.”

Speaking on the Emergency Service Levy, Zahra said it’s clear weather event will continue to impact Australian communities.

“Retailers play a critical role in supporting those communities,” Zahra said. “To do that successfully, they need to have plans in place to allow them to survive and manage in such a crisis.

“The NSW Government has also taken admirable strides to reform the Emergency Services Levy to ease the cost of insurance premiums for small businesses.

“Such changes all play their part in easing pressure on an industry that is under siege.”

While the ARA welcomed the new measures, Zahra called for continued government action for all retailers.

“Looking forward, we need extensive improvement around risk mitigation, undertaken between Government and industry,” he said.

“This includes emergency planning and procedures, but also awareness building and education. 

“Our digital infrastructure remains vulnerable and demonstrates the need for all businesses to have a backup and crisis plan. All entities using technologies are susceptible to technical outages.

“Both State and Federal Governments have shown that SMB viability is on their radar, so we hope they’ll use this momentum to continue to provide support and relief for struggling small retailers.”

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