WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, announced they introduced bipartisan legislation to improve access to cybersecurity resources and training for small businesses in communities across the country. The Small Business Cybersecurity Assistance Act of 2019 allows 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 protections.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing tens of millions of Americans nationwide,” said Senator Peters. “As we’ve seen in recent years, a breach at a small business not only has devastating consequences for that company’s future, it can also be the doorway for breaches of larger companies. Yet too many small business owners say they lack the resources they need to safeguard their businesses and customers from hackers, fraudsters, and cybercriminals. This commonsense legislation will help ensure small businesses can access much needed information and training to secure their systems from malicious cyber-attacks.”
“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,” Senator Rubio said. “Cyber criminals and state-sponsored foreign hackers continue to target small businesses’ online systems, paralyzing their networks and ability to operate. This bipartisan bill ensures that small businesses have greater access to critical resources and training to better protect their networks before a cyber-attack occurs. I appreciate working with Senator Peters to address this ongoing issue, and look forward to the Senate Small Business Committee’s continued bipartisan effort to comprehensively reauthorize the Small Business Act.”
Small businesses employ nearly half of the nation’s workforce and increasingly rely on information technology to protect consumer data, secure intellectual property and process payments. According to a 2019 industry report, small businesses are appealing targets for hackers and accounted for 43% of breaches in 2018. The same report found that more than 85% of small business owners are concerned they do not have adequate resources to protect their businesses from a cyber-attack. According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance, more than half of small companies that suffer a serious breach go out of business within six months. Small businesses that contract with large companies can also be a weak link in cyber defenses. In the 2013 Target breach that exposed payment information for more than 41 million customers, hackers were able to exploit a weakness in a small business contractor’s system to steal the information.
The Small Business Cybersecurity Assistance Act of 2019 allows SDBCs to coordinate with DHS to provide cybersecurity information and resources to small business owners. The bill would also consolidate federal government cybersecurity information for small businesses in one place, and require DHS to develop cybersecurity materials and training programs for SBDCs to use in their work to support small businesses in their communities.
SBDCs provide free training, marketing and other business-related consulting to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to help small businesses grow, compete and succeed. There are over 1,000 SBDCs across the country, including at least one center in all 50 states. Michigan’s SBDC center is headquartered at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, and the state is home to 11 regional offices and more than 20 satellite offices.