Senators move to bolster cyber resources for small businesses

Senators move to bolster cyber resources for small businesses

A bipartisan group of senators is looking to bolster resources for small businesses to safeguard their digital assets from cyber threats. 

Five senators introduced legislation on Wednesday that would direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to consider small businesses when updating its cybersecurity framework and offer consistent resources for small businesses that decide to use the framework.

NIST produces a widely-respected framework for improving critical infrastructure cybersecurity that federal agencies and departments as well as private-sector entities have the option of using. 

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, but unfortunately that’s exactly what makes them a prime target for hackers," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), ranking member of a commerce subcommittee focused on technology, said upon introducing the legislation.

"These cyberattacks not only leave American consumers exposed, they can be so harmful to businesses that recovering from an attack can often times force them out of business,” he continued. “[This legislation] will give small businesses the tools to firm up their cybersecurity infrastructure and fight online attacks."

The legislation, called the MAIN STREET Cyber Security Act, earned immediate backing from business organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Small Business Association. 

Sens. James Risch (R-Idaho,) John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneAviation panel recommends Trump roll back safety rules Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule Overnight Tech: Senate looks at self-driving trucks | Facebook to keep ads off fake news | House panel calls Equifax CEO to testify MORE (R-S.D.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate energy bill is misguided gift to Trump’s dirty fossil fuel agenda Help states solve their housing problems with the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Time to pass the U.S. OUTDOOR Act to support American jobs and consumers MORE (D-Wash.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDem asks airlines to cap airfares ahead of Hurricane Maria Trump encourages Rick Scott to run for Senate Overnight Regulation: House moves to block methane rule | Senators wrestle with allowing driverless trucks | EPA delays toxic waste rule MORE (D-Fla.) joined with Schatz to introduce the legislation.

“Cyber attacks can have catastrophic effects on small businesses and their customers,” said Thune, who chairs the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“This legislation offers important resources, specifically meeting the unique needs of small businesses, to help them guard sensitive data and systems from thieves and hackers.”