Cybersecurity Threats to Small Businesses Focus of McCaskill-Backed Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, signed on to cosponsor a bipartisan bill that will help Missouri small businesses protect themselves against cyberattacks by expanding resources designed to help them safeguard their digital data.

“Small businesses are key to our state’s economic growth and employ over one million Missourians, but cyberattacks can have a devastating effect on small businesses because many lack the resources to recover,” McCaskill said. “Ensuring that the tools the government produces to help organizations address cyber risks are helpful to local companies—not just enormous corporations—will assist Missouri business owners who are trying to protect their data.”

The bill, Making Available Information Now to Strengthen Trust and Resilience and Enhance Enterprise Technology (MAIN STREET) Cybersecurity Act, will help small businesses by requiring the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to specifically consider small businesses when updating its voluntary guidance on how to guard against cyberattacks. The legislation is supported by leading business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

According to U.S. Small Business Administration data, small businesses in Missouri make up 97.5 percent of all Missouri businesses. The state has 507,712 small businesses, employing over one million workers. Small businesses are vulnerable to cyberattack and depending on the severity, many victims have trouble recovering and are forced out of business. A December 2016 report from the Missouri Cybersecurity Task Force called for increased support for small businesses around cybersecurity threats: “Many organizations around the State of Missouri lack the necessary resources to properly protect themselves from cybersecurity attacks…. Smaller organizations, including small businesses, schools, hospitals, banks, local government, and local utilities, deliver many essential services to Missouri citizens.”

McCaskill has long supported Congressional action to address the nation’s vulnerability to cyberattacks. Following the Office of Personnel Management data breach, which compromised the personal information of at least 21.5 million individuals, McCaskill and a group of bipartisan Senators introduced language that was signed into law increasing the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to protect federal civilian networks from cyberattacks.