House bill would help small biz thwart hackers

House bill would help small biz thwart hackers
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Two lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill to help small businesses better protect themselves from cyberattacks.

While small businesses are not high-value targets for hackers, they are still peppered by low-level attacks and frequently lack the resources or personnel to establish top-of-the-line digital defenses.

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The bill, from Reps. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Head of House Office of Diversity and Inclusion urges more staff diversity House lawmakers roll out bill to invest 0 million in state and local cybersecurity MORE (D-Wash.), would direct the federal government to develop a specific cybersecurity plan for these companies that could be disseminated through Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs).

These SBDCs — partly funded by the Small Business Administration — offer resources and guidance to companies with limited staffs.

“Our bill would give small businesses key tools so they can develop a comprehensive plan for tackling cyber threats and better protect their bottom lines,” said Kilmer in a statement.

The federal government has already spent years developing a cybersecurity framework intended to help companies assess their cyber risks and design their own digital defenses. But polls show that the while the framework has been adopted by larger companies, many small firms have been less able to follow suit.

“While programs exist at the federal level to provide cyber assistance to small businesses, what we’ve found is that they are not always accessible or well-coordinated,” Hanna said. “This bill would streamline and improve these resources, providing critical assistance to American entrepreneurs to help them safeguard their business transactions.”

A statement from Hanna and Kilmer noted a study that found 83 percent of small businesses do not have an established cybersecurity plan.

When only large companies operated online, this was not an issue. But now even the smallest businesses process credit card data and sell products online.

“As more and more local employers use technology and have online customer transactions, the federal government needs to make sure they're able to combat cyberattacks,” Kilmer said.

The bill boasts 10 bipartisan co-sponsors, including the leaders of the House Small Business Committee — Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and ranking member Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.).

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), a regular voice on cybersecurity during hearings, is also signed on as a co-sponsor.