Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Montana Department of Commerce has launched the new Montana Cybersecurity Program, specifically designed to protect Montana businesses and to encourage strong cybersecurity practices.

ARPA Funded Cybersecurity Protection now Available Through Commerce Department

KGVO News reached out to Scott Osterman, Director of the Montana Department of Commerce for why the state of Montana believes so strongly in helping to provide inexpensive cybersecurity for Montana small businesses.

“We know that cybersecurity is one of the most important topics for any small business or any business or enterprise whatsoever,” began Osterman.  “While we in Montana sometimes don't feel like we see these threats as much, we certainly look at the absolute statistics are ones that 43 percent of all cybersecurity attacks are aimed at small business. And only about we would estimate 14 percent of businesses are really currently prepared for an attack that could come from any direction.”

Osterman said the cybersecurity will be paid for by the leftover ARPA business funds that were sent to each state during the COVID pandemic.

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“We looked through the ARPA funds that we had from the American Rescue Plan Act,” he said. “We looked at a variety of different topics that we thought were important and very timely, I guess, to be able to say here's what we need to do to help our Montana businesses and, you know, 97 or 98 percent of all businesses in Montana are small businesses. So we really looked at this as a as a key way to help them secure their future.”

Osterman said the cybersecurity funding will go a long way to help especially small businesses in Montana protect their vital information.

Funding is also Available for Cybersecurity Training

“We have a program that offers up to $8,000 in reimbursable costs for services provided by a Montana cybersecurity firm,” he said. “And that cybersecurity firm is specifically aimed at helping these businesses. We have the ability to pay for equipment and the ongoing service, and that sort of thing. So that $8,000 is a significant help for a small business that maybe doesn't have that in their budget.”

Osterman said the ARPA funding can also be used for cybersecurity training.

“We also have provided some funds to Missoula College and Accelerate Montana for some training and to allow there to be screening by employees and or to develop some expertise, because 90 percent of data breaches really are caused by human error. Because you can have as much hardware as you need but you still need to have that education and your employees be aware of what some of the threats are they can identify out there just in their day to day working.”

Click here to find out more about cybersecurity funding and training from the Montana Department of Commerce for your business.

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