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Schatz, Risch, Thune, Cantwell, Nelson Introduce Legislation To Improve Cybersecurity Resources For Small Businesses

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, James Risch (R-Idaho), Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced the Making Available Information Now to Strengthen Trust and Resilience and Enhance Enterprise Technology (MAIN STREET) Cybersecurity Act. The new legislation will provide a consistent set of resources for small businesses to best protect their digital assets from cybersecurity threats.

Small businesses are a pillar of the American economy and make up more than half of all jobs in the United States. But these businesses have also become a major target for cyberattacks.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, but unfortunately that’s exactly what makes them a prime target for hackers. 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,” said Senator Schatz. “The MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act will give small businesses the tools to firm up their cybersecurity infrastructure and fight online attacks.”

“In 2012, nearly 71 percent of cyberattacks occurred in businesses with fewer than 100 employees,” said Senator Risch. “These attacks seriously compromise not only the businesses, but also their employees’ and customers’ personal information. As we work to reduce our nation’s cyber vulnerabilities, we must be equally mindful of our responsibility to uniformly educate all small business owners on how to deter these threats.”

“Cyber attacks can have catastrophic effects on small businesses and their customers,” said Senator Thune. “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.”

“Small businesses drive our economy and help create jobs on Main Streets across America. As cyber-attacks become more commonplace, it is critical that we help them protect their data from very real and imminent threats,” said Senator Cantwell. “By creating a simple, voluntary cybersecurity framework for small businesses, the MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act will help them protect their data, while focusing on what they do best: serving their customers and creating jobs.”

“Cyberattacks are happening against computer systems, large and small, whether they are operated by a multi-billion dollar corporation or a small utility in rural Florida.” said Senator Nelson.  “This bill will provide valuable guidance to small businesses to help them fight against hackers who seek to bring down their networks or steal information about their customers.”

In 2014, the Senate unanimously passed the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014, which codified the industry-led process for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework, a comprehensive voluntary guide for organizations and businesses to better manage and reduce cybersecurity risks. While this framework continues to play a key role in improving the cyber resilience of the United States, additional coordinated resources may be necessary to improve the ability of small businesses to use it. The MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act will ensure NIST considers the needs of small businesses as it updates the framework and provide simplified, consistent resources based on the NIST framework specifically for small businesses.

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pleased to support the MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act. Information and communications technology have made businesses more innovative, agile, and productive than ever, but cybersecurity threats have created challenges for organizations that may lack the resources to adequately address them. Enhancements to America’s information security, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses, will help drive growth in our economy,” said Ann M. Beauchesne, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's National Security & Emergency Preparedness Department.

“Nearly half of small businesses have been the victim of a cyber-attack, with an average cost of $7,115.26,” said Todd McCracken, President and CEO of the National Small Business Association. “The MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act would help small businesses protect their digital data, and would do so in a streamlined, straightforward way absent a massive new regulatory burden.”

“Small businesses often don’t have the resources they need to guard against sophisticated cyber-attacks, and this legislation can be the helping hand small businesses need to help reduce their cybersecurity risks,” said Andy Halataei, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs of the Information Technology Industry Council. “By offering small businesses federal agencies’ resources and coordinated support, they can better manage risks, protect customer privacy, and focus on growing their ventures. We thank Sens. Schatz, Risch, Thune, Nelson and Cantwell for introducing the MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act and urge their colleagues to pass this legislation.”