President Signs Sen. Cantwell’s Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Cybersecurity Resources for Small Businesses into Law

62 percent of all cyberattacks target small businesses; cybercrime expected to cost global economy more than $2 trillion by 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, President Trump signed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), James Risch (R-ID), John Thune (R-SD), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) into law. The NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act, originally called the MAIN STREET Cybersecurity Act, will provide consistent resources for small businesses throughout the country to best protect their digital assets from ever-present cybersecurity threats.

“Small businesses drive our economy and create jobs across the state of Washington. As cyberattacks become more commonplace, we must help these businesses protect their data from these very real threats,” said Senator Cantwell. “By creating a simple, voluntary cybersecurity framework for small businesses, this legislation will help them protect their data, while focusing on what they do best: serving their customers and creating jobs.”

Small businesses are a pillar of the American economy, creating and supporting more than half of all jobs in the United States. Increasingly, however, cyberattacks have come to represent a massive and growing threat to small business owners throughout the United States.

Small and mid-sized businesses are hit by 62 percent of all cyberattacks, about 4,000 per day, because they tend to be the easiest targets to penetrate. In addition to the high costs of cleaning up after a cyberattack, notifying customers of a data breach can destroy confidence in a company. Sixty percent of small businesses go out of business within six months of an attack.

However, investing in cybersecurity is costly. Ninety percent of small businesses do not use any data protection for company and customer information. At the same time, small businesses often underestimate their vulnerability to a cyberattack. According to Towergate Insurance, 82 percent of small business owners say they are not targets for attacks because they do not have anything worth stealing.

Cybercrime continues to grow rapidly around the world, with annual costs to the global economy estimated to reach over $2 trillion by 2019. The Internet Crime Complaint Center at the Department of Justice recorded 298,728 cybersecurity complaints in 2016, totaling more than $1.3 billion in losses. On average, companies around the world take 146 days to detect a cyberattack, according to a 2017 report by FireEye and Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Small businesses are especially crucial to Washington state’s economy. In November 2017, the Paychex IHS Small Business Employment Watch rated Seattle first in the nation in small business jobs growth. Among states, Washington is rated second in small business growth, behind only Tennessee. The state is home to more than 574,000 small businesses, which employ more than 1.3 million people, representing 51.4 percent of the state’s workforce.

Senator Cantwell has been the leading voice in Congress on protecting critical U.S. infrastructure from cyberattacks, including small businesses, election systems, and the energy grid. On March 14, 2017, and June 22, 2017, Senator Cantwell sent letters to President Trump calling on him to defend energy infrastructure and to instruct the Department of Energy to conduct an analysis of Russian capabilities with respect to cyberattacks on U.S. energy infrastructure. In hearing after hearing, Cantwell has pressed for increased collaboration between the government, private sector, utilities, military, and academia to protect U.S. energy infrastructure from cyberattacks. And this March, Senator Cantwell helped to secure $380 million in funding for grants to help states, including Washington, protect their election systems.