GRAND RAPIDS  – The Small Business Development Center of Michigan Friday  announced its intention to go all-in with its efforts to assist Michigan small businesses in evaluating risk of cyber threats by offering a free risk assessment tool that aims to attract 1,000 small businesses across the state by the end of 2015, and 10,000 Michigan businesses by the end of 2016.

The “Small Business, Big Threat” web tool (www.smallbusinessbigthreat.com) and program overview was formally introduced at a press conference at Grand Valley State University’s Seidman Center December 4.

“Our goal is to have 1,000 individuals from the Michigan small business community experience the Small Business, Big Threat site by the end of 2015,” commented Keith Brophy, State Director of the Michigan Small Business Development Center.  “Additionally, we hope to have 10,000 individuals experience the site by the end of 2016.  Increasing the cyber security awareness of 10,000 people makes for a safer, more vibrant business economy.”

The initiative was developed and is operated by the SBDC with funding support from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Additional support for the SBDC network comes from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business and SBDC Regional Hosts across the state.

Grand Rapids-based technology firm Trivalent Group serves as the lead content production partner and cyber security experts.

The foundation of the initiative is a website, www.smallbusinessbigthreat.com, which allows individuals to take the free online assessment. At the conclusion of the assessment, the individuals receive a risk assessment report. From there, participants can choose from a variety of resources to engage with, including in-depth trainings, webinars, best practices, or industry articles on small business cyber security.

The information on the website is targeted to small business owners and employees who are non-technical. The assessment takes between 25 and 35 minutes to complete.  The site has been live for a few weeks and already has received positive feedback.

“We have been piloting this program for a few weeks now and have seen notable results from participants,” said SBDC of Michigan associate director Jennifer Deamud.  “We are confident that Michigan small businesses will benefit from this tool and be more prepared to fight cyber threats.”

“The ultimate goal is to arm small businesses with information, an assessment of their awareness,, and an action plan,” Brophy adds. “The assessment tool is the starting point, but we’re hopeful that our webinars, in-person training and action plans will help protect Michigan small businesses against cyber-attacks.”

Aside from direct outreach to SBDC clients and referral partners, the SBDC has partnered with Issue Media Group (publishers of Grand Rapids’ popular Rapid Growth Media newsletter and Detroit’s Model D) to publish a 10-part series on cyber security.  As well, free workshops will be scheduled throughout the state that allows small business leaders to learn more about the risks of cyber threats and how the assessment can help.

Learn more about the program and training sessions at https://smallbusinessbigthreat.com/