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 ThuneSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (R-S.D.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellLooking to the past to secure America's clean energy future Democrats demand more action from feds on unruly airline passengers Delta variant's spread hampers Labor Day air travel, industry recovery MORE (D-Wash.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Climate change turning US into coffee country Elon Musk mocks Biden for ignoring his company's historic space flight How will Biden's Afghanistan debacle impact NASA's Artemis return to the moon? 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.”