Ohio State experts to help Ohio small businesses improve cybersecurity

Posted: September 20, 2023

According to a survey by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), 88% of small business owners felt their business was vulnerable to a cyberattack. Yet many businesses can’t afford professional IT solutions, have limited time to devote to cybersecurity or don’t know where to begin.

The Ohio State University received a $1 million SBA grant to advance Ohio small businesses’ cybersecurity infrastructure and increase their ability to respond to threats. The university is one of six recipients nationwide recently awarded $6 million in funding under the SBA’s Cybersecurity for Small Businesses Pilot Program.

Vimal Buck stands inside a laboratory at the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence
CDME Industrial Cybersecurity Director Vimal Buck leads the effort to create and deliver comprehensive cybersecurity training and support to Ohio's small businesses.

Ohio State’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) leads a team of collaborators who will create and deliver comprehensive cybersecurity training and support to Ohio's small businesses. Focusing on the manufacturing sector, which employs one-third of the state's 2.2 million small business employees, the Ohio Cybersecurity for Small Businesses Pilot will educate, train, mentor and improve small businesses’ ability to mitigate cybersecurity threats. The grant-funded program will develop online courses to lead small businesses through steps to identify cybersecurity threats, respond to cybercrimes and develop resilient infrastructure.

Program collaborators include CyberOhio, the Ohio Cyber Collaboration Committee (OC3), the Ohio Cyber Range Institute (OCRI) and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

"The Ohio State University's receipt of the SBA Cybersecurity Pilot Program grant is another significant step towards advancing CyberOhio’s whole-of-state cybersecurity plan for Ohio,” said Kirk Herath, chair of CyberOhio and cybersecurity strategic advisor to Governor Mike DeWine. “This program strategically aligns with the Ohio Comprehensive Cybersecurity Plan, advancing Ohio's collective efforts to better protect, detect, respond and recover from cyberattacks. Small businesses are more vulnerable to cyberattacks every day, and this program paves the way for exciting advances in protecting every Ohio sector – public and private - from cyber threats.”

CDME will create free online cybersecurity courses that enhance cybersecurity awareness and skills, reduce the risk of cyberattacks by sharing best practices for securing informational and operational technology requirements, and improve small businesses’ ability to respond to and recover from cybersecurity incidents. Once complete, the courses will be available to small businesses via the Ohio Cyber Range Institute’s website.

“By leveraging CDME’s extensive manufacturing expertise, we will create engaging and informative cybersecurity content to address the unique needs of Ohio's manufacturing base,” said CDME Director of Industrial Cybersecurity Director Vimal Buck, the principal investigator for the grant. “The courses will be customized to suit varying levels of cybersecurity knowledge and industry-specific requirements, and participants will receive certification upon completion.”

With this grant, CDME will also provide complementary services to expand existing outreach being done by the Ohio Cyber Range Institute and the Ohio Cyber Collaboration Committee for critical infrastructure and local government, helping raise the cybersecurity posture of Ohio’s nearly one million small businesses and ensuring that Ohio continues to be a vital part of the manufacturing supply chain. CDME will also develop value-added services providing personalized follow-up support to small businesses through Ohio’s TechCred program.

“Cyber threats can be devastating to small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “The SBA’s Cybersecurity for Small Business Program leverages the full power of our state governments, territories, and institutions of higher learning to provide turnkey, timely solutions to small businesses, and I am excited to see this expansion across Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Hawaii and Wyoming.”

by Jocelyn Wells, CDME communications

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