House GOP Warns Of Growing Cyber-Threat To Small Businesses

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot of Ohio highlighted the high risk cyber-threats pose to small businesses in a hearing Wednesday, saying the federal government needs to do more to prevent cyber-attacks.

A study conducted by Verizon found a whopping 71 percent of cyber-attacks occurred in businesses with less than 100 employees. Chabot noted the FBI has determined foreign actors are a major threat to the telecommunications supply chain and there has been clear evidence foreign nations, with China being one of the biggest offenders, have been linked to attempts to steal intellectual property and personal information.

“They are integral links in the government supply chain but are often ill-equipped to combat against sophisticated foreign cyber-attacks,” the Republican said in his opening statement. “This makes them a prime target for state sponsors of cyber terrorism who wish to undermine America’s commerce and security.”

While there have been notable cases of large businesses, including within the U.S. government as seen with the massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management, witnesses testifying at the hearing said the threat on small businesses often falls under the radar.

“Our government simply does not have the resources to address all of the cyber-security issues faced by businesses, critical infrastructure, and government systems let alone those faced by small businesses,” Nova J. Daly, a senior public policy adviser at Wiley Rein, a notable Washington, D.C.-based law firm, said.

According to Jamil Jaffer, the director of the Homeland and National Law Program at George Mason School of Law, cyber-threats are an even larger issue for the country than counterterrorism.

“Our biggest challenge is to get jurisdiction over foreign actors … that’s the really hard part,” he told the committee.

Justin Zeefe, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of the Nisos Group, an Alexandria, Va.-based consulting group specializing in cybersecurity agreed, adding cyber-attacks will cost 445 billion dollars by the end of 2016.

Zeefe said there are strategies small businesses can utilize to mitigate the risk.

“The best thing a small business can do is ensure that their network is relatively secure by following the protocols that are standard across all industries,” he said.

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