Peters, Risch Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Federal Cybersecurity Resources for Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Jim Risch (R-ID) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide additional cybersecurity resources to small businesses. The bill would create cybersecurity assistance units at Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) throughout the country. The new assistance units will serve as a point-of-contact for small businesses that suffer a cyber-attack, helping businesses find a solution to the problem and prevent more attacks in the future.

“In an increasingly interconnected society, it is critical that small businesses have the resources and support to protect against damaging cyber-attacks that often have devastating consequences,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan legislation will bolster cyber-resources and information sharing for small businesses in Michigan and across the country, while allowing small businesses to focus on doing what they do best: serve customers in their community.”

“While the internet is a necessary tool for small businesses in the competitive marketplace, it also presents a real vulnerability to their information and operations,” said Senator Risch. “Cyber-attacks are increasingly aimed at small businesses, who are entrusted with the valuable personal and financial details of their clients. For the small mom and pops that don’t have the resources to invest in specialized equipment or employees, cyber-attacks can be an existential threat. This bill will offer small businesses a safe place nearby to turn to when a threat or attack happens.”

Cyber-attacks can have devastating effects on small businesses, which operate on narrow margins and with less capital. An unexpected breach can result in permanent loss of essential data, customers taking their business elsewhere, or the business shutting its doors. The State of Michigan estimates that they detect over 600,000 attempted intrusions to their information systems every day.

To combat this, the Small Business Advanced Cybersecurity Enhancements Act of 2018 would:

  • Establish SBDCs as the primary liaison for federal information sharing for small businesses;
  • Ensure that small businesses engaging with SBDCs receive the same protections provided for individuals who make disclosures under the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA); and
  • Coordinate expertise from several federal agencies to provide small businesses with the best resources to prevent and recover from cyber-attacks.

Michigan is home to 11 SBDC regional offices, which worked with over 5,500 businesses across the state in 2016 and helped establish over 400 businesses.

This bill has received broad support from groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Realtors Association. Similar legislation passed committee in the House of Representatives.

Peters, a member of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, has worked to strengthen public and private sector cyber capabilities. Last year, Peters introduced legislation to expand efforts to train SBDC employees to become certified in cyber strategy counseling, and improve cyber threat coordination between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local governments. In 2016, bipartisan legislation introduced by Peters enabling SBDCs to work with DHS to assist small businesses in planning for and protecting against cyber security attacks was signed into law.