Bill aimed at small-biz cybersecurity

Lawmakers have introduced legislation to help protect small businesses from computer hackers and information security breaches.

On June 9, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) joined Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) in introducing versions of the Small Business Information Security Act of 2008 in both houses of Congress.

The measures would create a Small Business Information Security Task Force at the Small Business Administration. The task force's goal would be to help small firms understand and effectively respond to information security vulnerabilities, said Nick Christiansen, a spokesman for the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

Small businesses account for half of the country's economy and create two-thirds of all new jobs, said Kerry, the committee's chairman.

“But we also must make sure that small businesses are armed to protect themselves and their customers against hackers seeking financial and personal data,” he said. “Giving small businesses the tools to protect sensitive information helps to strengthen our broader economy as well.”

Establishing such a task force would be a step toward safeguarding small companies and their customers, said Snowe, ranking member of the committee. Many small businesses experience security breaches, do not automatically scan e-mail messages for viruses, do not use encryption to protect wireless networks and do not have an information security plan, she added.

The task force would:

  • Identify information security concerns and services to address those concerns.

  • Make recommendations to help SBA better assist small businesses in understanding cybersecurity issues and identifying resources to help meet those challenges.

  • Promote current programs and services that would help small businesses protect their customers’ information.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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