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 ThuneSenate panel approves GOP tax plan Republicans see rising Dem odds in Alabama Overnight Health Care: Nearly 1.5M sign up for ObamaCare so far | Schumer says Dems won't back ObamaCare deal if it's tied to tax bill | House passes fix to measure letting Pentagon approve medical treatments MORE (R-S.D.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  FCC rolls back media regulations in move that critics say benefits Sinclair Steps Congress can take to save affordable housing in tax reform MORE (D-Wash.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonReport: FCC chair to push for complete repeal of net neutrality Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  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.”