Cyber security attacks are often considered a risk for large corporations and government. However, SMEs are an easier target with generally limited funds and resources available to invest in internet security and protection.
While the internet provides an affordable and effective place for small businesses to sell and promote their goods and services, it also provides opportunity for unauthorised access to business and client data. The popularity of personal mobile devices, use of social networking sites and access to cloud based services has further exacerbated the risk from cyber security threats to organisations and individuals.
The outcome of cyber-attack can destroy businesses financially, through loss of bank account details as well as materially, through the loss of intellectual property and customer data.
In 2013-2014, the Cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo joined forces to work with the ECU Security Research Institute (ECUSRI) Professor Craig Valli to establish a baseline of user knowledge about cyber security risks and their reduction through deployment of countermeasures such as virus protections, firewalls and passwords within the Joondalup and Wanneroo precincts.
A major concern was the indication that the largest growth area for targeted cyber security attacks were businesses with fewer than 250 employees in 2012; 31% of all attacks directed to SMEs (ref: The Symantec “Internet Security Threat Report 2013”).
Analysis of survey results from the work undertaken by ECUSRI for the Cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo revealed a large proportion of local small business operators were unaware of the threat to their business and the affordable preventative measures available to them. This study resulted in a number of intervention workshops being presented in 2014 with the aim of enabling business to utilise existing freely available robust solutions to create secure and resilient business systems. It also became clear that more work was needed to protect both business and their customers doing business online, particularly via mobile devices.
Recognising that the cyber security of a community is reliant upon every individual within the community having the knowledge of how to best protect themselves online, ECUSRI and the Cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo have continued their collaboration to develop a new cyber security initiative, Cyber Check.Me.
The aim of Cyber Check.Me is to provide unbiased cyber security information and advice for small businesses and community members at a range of easy to access locations.
Throughout 2016, the Cyber Check Me initiative has been delivered across a range of pop-up locations across the Cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo, including the sixty27 co-working space at North Metropolitan TAFE.
The Cyber Check.Me initiative also involved a questionnaire survey of pop up stall attendees to help inform continuation of the project beyond the initial pilot phase. A report on the local constituents’ concerns and vulnerabilities will also help the Cities to form their respective digital strategies and community/business support programs.
For further information regarding the Cyber Check Me project or future “Pop Up” locations please contact THE LINK team on: [email protected] or telephone 08 6304 2867.