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. 

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"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 ThuneOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump GOP shifting on unemployment benefits as jobless numbers swell MORE (R-S.D.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate Dems introduce bill to keep pilots and bus and train operators safe Democratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Trump nominee for Consumer Product Safety Commission involved in CDC guidance shelving: AP MORE (D-Wash.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon Lobbying world The most expensive congressional races of the last decade 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.”