Although the threat often goes unnoted in stories about high-profile breaches of big businesses and government entities, the impact of a cyber incident on small businesses is potentially overwhelming. A recent report from Kaspersky Labs concluded that the average cost of a cybersecurity incident incurred by small and medium businesses is $86,500. Many small businesses confronted with such costs would be forced to close their doors.
Help may be on the way. H.R. 5064, the “Improving Small Business Cyber Security Act of 2016”, recently passed the House with bipartisan support.
The bill “amends the Small Business Act to authorize the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make grants to small business development centers (SBDCs) in furtherance of a SBDC Cyber Strategy to be developed by the SBA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issues a report that reviews federal cybersecurity resources aimed at assisting small businesses.” The GAO’s cyber resources report must, at a minimum: “(1) an accounting, description, and assessment of the utilization of federal programs that provide cybersecurity assistance to small businesses; and (2) an assessment of whether the resources are duplicative of other programs or accessible to small businesses.”
The strategy to be developed by the SBA and DHS must include:
- plans for leveraging SBDCs into existing federal cyber programs to assist small businesses;
- methods for helping improve small businesses' cyber security infrastructure, threat awareness, and training programs for employees; and
- an analysis of how SBDCs can leverage federal programs and develop partnerships with federal, state, and local governments and private entities to improve cyber support services to small businesses.
This approach sounds promising. But only time will tell whether and to what extent the Senate works with the House to move the bill forward. Jackson Kelly will continue to monitor and report on developments.
Eric Whytsell is responsible for this Short Take.
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