The Senate passed legislation Thursday that would require the federal government to offer more tools to small businesses to guard their networks from cyber threats.
The legislation offered by Sens. James Risch (R-Idaho) and Brian Schatz(D-Hawaii) directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to publish and disseminate resources to small businesses that choose to use the cybersecurity framework produced by the institute.
NIST, a standards laboratory under the Department of Commerce, produces and updates a cybersecurity framework for public and private entities.
Both Risch and Schatz cheered the passage of the bill, citing the massive Equifax data breach earlier this month as the most recent reminder of stark cyber threats to businesses and other organizations.
“All too often, these kinds of attacks on businesses—big and small—leave Americans exposed. That’s why we wrote this legislation, so that American small businesses have the tools they need to beef up their cybersecurity and prepare to fight back,” Schatz said in a statement.
Risch said the legislation “will help America’s small business owners safeguard against cyber threats and better position them to protect their assets, customers, and employees.”
“The recent Equifax hack is the latest example of the many vulnerabilities that exist and why we must take urgent, proactive steps to prevent cyber-attacks on small businesses in addition to individuals,” Risch said.
The Senate Commerce Committee swiftly approved the legislation in April after it was introduced. It has a slate of bipartisan cosponsors, including Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), the committee chair, and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member.