“Small businesses generally lack the resources to defend themselves from cyber attacks,” said Scott Anderson, executive director of Forge Institute and former Air Force Cyber Squadron commander and senior intelligence officer. “Cybercrime cost American small businesses more than $2 billion last year. Forge Institute is a resource that enables small businesses to fight back by developing appropriate defensive measures.”
In August 2022, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the creation of the Cybersecurity for Small Business Pilot Program, supported by $3 million in new funding to help emerging small businesses develop their cybersecurity infrastructure.
As part of the pilot program, Forge Institute received a $999,650.66 grant from the SBA to conduct outreach, respond, assess, and train Arkansas small businesses, including ASBTDC’s clients as requested. The Memorandum of Understanding serves as an addendum to a collaboration agreement established between Forge Institute and UA Little Rock signed in January 2021.
Laura Fine, state director for ASBTDC, underscored the importance of the pilot program and Forge Institute’s role in administering training courses.
“ASBTDC is the state’s premier small business assistance provider,” Fine said. “This expanded collaboration with Forge Institute enables us to better serve the more than 5,000 small businesses we assist in Arkansas each year.”
In addition to advising Forge Institute on areas where Arkansas small businesses need assistance in cybersecurity, ASBTDC will promote and raise awareness of Forge Institute services, including the Arkansas Cyber Defense Center, Emerging Threat Center, and the Forge Academy with its small business customers and partners.
“The Forge Institute mantra is ‘Forever One Step Ahead,’ and this collaboration with ASBTDC will help Arkansas’s small businesses stay one step ahead of bad actors looking to disrupt our economic security,” Anderson said.