Senators offer bill to protect small businesses from cyberattacks

Senators offer bill to protect small businesses from cyberattacks
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Sens. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersHillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks Lawmakers weigh responses to rash of ransomware attacks Dem senator calls for Pentagon watchdog to probe Air Force's Trump resort stay MORE (D-Mich.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio Rubio The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation GOP group's ad calls on Graham to push for election security: 'Are you still trying?' Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick joins CBS News as contributor MORE (R-Fla.) introduced legislation Monday designed to protect small businesses from cyberattacks by making it easier for those companies to access tools to protect themselves. 

The Small Business Cybersecurity Assistance Act would authorize Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) to work with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide consulting to small businesses on how to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols.

It would also require DHS to develop materials and programs for SBDCs to help the small businesses in their area defend against cyberattacks.

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Peters and Rubio cited an industry report that found that small businesses accounted for 43 percent of data breaches in 2018, in touting the need for legislation.

“Too many small business owners say they lack the resources they need to safeguard their businesses and customers from hackers, fraudsters, and cybercriminals,” Peters said in a statement. “This commonsense legislation will help ensure small businesses can access much needed information and training to secure their systems from malicious cyber-attacks.”

Rubio added that “as technology continues to play an integral role in the way business is conducted in the 21st century economy, we must equip our small businesses with the tools they need to combat cyber criminals and protect their networks.”

Rubio, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, previously introduced two other small business cybersecurity bills in March. 

The Small Business Cyber Training Act would create training programs for SBDCs to prepare counselors to provide cyber planning assistance, while the Small Business Administration (SBA) Cyber Awareness Act would require the SBA to create a cybersecurity strategy. Both bills were approved by the Small Business Committee and await a vote in the Senate. 

In the House, companion legislation to the SBA Cyber Awareness Act is sponsored by Rep. Jason CrowJason CrowOvernight Defense: Trump ousts Bolton in shocker | Fallout, reaction from GOP senators | Senate spending talks in chaos | Dems eye vote to nix Trump border emergency Swing-seat Democrats oppose impeachment, handing Pelosi leverage Second Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment MORE (D-Colo.), and has been added to the House version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, a massive bill the chamber will likely vote on this week.