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House Passes Two Bills to Improve Small Business Cybersecurity

The House of Representatives this week passed two bills whose goal is to boost small business cybersecurity in the United States.

One of the bills, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Cyber Awareness Act, was introduced by Reps. Young Kim (R-CA) and Jason Crow (D-CO). It aims to strengthen the capabilities of the SBA when it comes to handling and reporting cyber threats that affect small businesses.

The SBA Cyber Awareness Act would expand the SBA’s cybersecurity operations by requiring the agency to inform Congress about its ability to combat cyberthreats. The report would include details on the SBA’s cybersecurity infrastructure, cybersecurity improvement strategy, the use of equipment manufactured by Chinese companies, and any cyber incident at the agency.

“For more than two decades, the SBA’s Inspector General has listed IT security as one of the most pressing challenges facing the SBA. Unfortunately, SBA cybersecurity vulnerabilities were brought to light with unprecedented demand of SBA loan programs during COVID-19, discouraging entrepreneurs from starting a business and creating jobs,” said Congresswoman Kim. “We must address this issue now and secure our systems so small business owners can safely utilize SBA’s resources as they work to recover from the pandemic, hire workers and adjust to rising costs of supplies.”

The second bill passed by the House, the Small Business Development Center Cyber Training Act, was introduced by Congressman Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), with support from Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), and Dwight Evans (D-PA).

The goal of the bill is to give small businesses the resources needed to fight cyber threats on their own. It would help Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) better assist small businesses with cybersecurity-related issues. Specifically, the bill would authorize the SBA to reimburse SBDCs for employee certification costs, up to $350,000 per year.

“If we aren’t protecting our small businesses, then we’re not protecting our economy,” said Rep. Houlahan. “The rise in cyber-attacks against our economic infrastructure should be cause for serious alarm. We need to be doing everything in our power to not only shore up our defense but also equip our small business owners with the tools they need to defend their businesses.”

Related: U.S. Infrastructure Bill Allocates $2 Billion to Cybersecurity

Related: House Passes Several Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Bills

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.