Small businesses can't go it alone on cybersecurity - Washington Examiner

Small businesses can't go it alone on cybersecurity - Washington Examiner


Small businesses can't go it alone on cybersecurity - Washington Examiner

Posted: 18 Jul 2019 08:00 PM PDT

Two senators hope to improve cybersecurity protections at small businesses by expanding services offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Small Business Cybersecurity Assistance Act, introduced in June by Sens. Gary Peters and Marco Rubio, would add more counselors and other cybersecurity resources available at the agency's nearly 1,000 Small Business Development Centers across the country.

The bill would allow SBDCs to use current grant funding to provide cybersecurity training and technical resources to small businesses. It would also direct the agency, working with the Department of Homeland Security, to manage and distribute cybersecurity materials.

A cybersecurity breach at a small business "not only has devastating consequences for that company's future, it can also be the doorway for breaches of larger companies," Peters said in a statement. "Yet too many small business owners say they lack the resources they need to safeguard their businesses and customers from hackers, fraudsters, and cybercriminals."

While most news coverage focuses on huge data breaches, small businesses are not immune from attack. About 43 percent of the more than 41,000 cyberattacks identified in Verizon's 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report targeted small businesses.

The bill echoes recommendations from DHS and the SBA in a report published in March, which suggested that many small businesses lack training in cybersecurity and are confused about what cybersecurity resources are available from the government.

Rep. Steve Chabot introduced a similar bill earlier this year.

Rubio has also introduced another bill, the Small Business Cyber Training Act, which would require cyber certification for small business development center counselors.

Several cybersecurity experts praised the bill, saying more training resources can help small businesses improve their defenses against cyberattacks.

"Complying with data privacy and cybersecurity laws is often a daunting task for small businesses," said William Roberts, a cybersecurity lawyer at Shipman & Goodwin in Hartford, Connecticut. "They usually lack the financial, dedicated cybersecurity or compliance staff, and time to dedicated to cybersecurity."

For many small businesses, and particularly start-ups, cybersecurity is one of many legal and compliance risks they are trying to juggle, he added. "Despite best efforts, there is simply not enough money or time in the day for many small businesses," he said. "Add in the ever-changing technical nature of cybersecurity and a legal landscape in constant flux, many small businesses don't know where to turn next for support."

The bill would allow small businesses to use the SBDCs as an "outsourced" cybersecurity resource to help them understand the risks to their business, the legal requirements, and the way to enact reasonable cybersecurity strategies, Roberts added.

The intentions behind the bill are good, added Robert Siciliano, cybersecurity training expert CEO of Safr.me. However, there are other cybersecurity resources available that many small businesses don't take advantage of, he added.

"The issue here is execution," he said. "Programs deployed by the government tend to get bogged down in bureaucracy and often do not reach their full potential."

Siciliano cautioned against small businesses going it alone on cybersecurity. "Cybersecurity is a specialty," he said. "It requires skilled credentialed experts. Just because anyone can buy a hammer, doesn't mean they are a finish carpenter."

Another cybersecurity expert questioned the value of the bill. The legislation is unlikely to "move the needle," said Mounir Hahad, head of Juniper Threat Labs and Juniper Networks.

Hahad questioned whether many small businesses would take advantage of the resources offered. "Most small businesses do not see the dangers involved with cybersecurity and believe the impact to their business would usually be minimal," he said. "Therefore, they do not invest time and resources in shoring up their security posture. They rely on their primary vendors to put in place a good enough security solution so they can remain focused on their core business."

Hahad recommended that Congress instead focus on improving the security of the nation's critical infrastructure or establish an incident response center for small businesses to help them deal with cyber incidents.

Army Futures Command staffed up, plans small business office - FCW.com

Posted: 18 Jul 2019 03:22 PM PDT

Defense

Army Futures Command staffed up, plans small business office

Gen. John M. Murray, Army Futures Command commanding general, spoke about the Army's modernization priorities and multi-domain operation during the Association of the U.S. Army's Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., March 26, 2019. (Photo Credit: Mr. John G. Martinez) 

Gen. John M. Murray, Army Futures Command commanding general, at the Association of the U.S. Army's Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., March 26, 2019. (Photo Credit: Mr. John G. Martinez)

Army Futures Command will hit full operating capacity July 31 and turn its attention to courting small businesses in hopes of tapping into the latest technology.

AFC Commander Gen. John Murray announced the modernization command has met most of its staffing needs after bringing on 24,000 civilian and military personnel and absorbing several Army organizations -- just one year after making Austin, Texas, its headquarters. More growth is expected, with a new small business center planned for AFC's headquarters.

"Small businesses are key to our success," Murray said in a July 18 Pentagon news briefing.

Murray told reporters the small business office in AFC headquarters will help "make sure that we are at least knowledgeable if not capitalizing on all that small business can offer." The command is currently hiring someone to lead that effort, he said.

In a July 17 report, the Government Accountability Office recommended AFC coordinate with other Army organizations to track small business engagement and set up a dedicated pathway to formally coordinate roles and responsibilities for working with small firms. Murray said he agreed with GAO's findings, saying "it's going to take a combination of both" small and large businesses to meet the Army's tech needs.

Murray also said the Army Applications Laboratory would be integral to AFC's small business goals, primarily serving as point for figuring out warfighter needs, including recoding mission command systems and integrating virtual reality into pilot training and autonomous resupply into artillery units.

Working with the University of Texas, AFC is building out a robotics laboratory and researching battery and energy storage as well as assured positioning, navigation and timing. With Texas A&M, AFC's focus areas are hypersonics and directed energy research along with plans to build a soldier development center where warfighters can connect directly with researchers.

Additionally, AFC plans to host a matchmaking event where defense prime contractors can network with small businesses. (DOD Acquisition and Sustainment has been working on a similar arrangement with vendors and venture capitalists.) Army acquisition head Bruce Jette said the Pentagon would support and coordinate with AFC's small business efforts.

With so much change around Army acquisition, Murray told reporters, the biggest challenge is making the Army acquisition culture less risk-averse.

"I'm not interested in changing the Army's culture," he said, but rather in "getting everybody focused on a single output as opposed to individual output." With many new organizations now under Army Futures Command, all of which come with their own cultures, Murray said it will take time, but AFC is "on the road to get there."


About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


New Loan Program To Help Farmers And Small Business Owners Recover After Damaging Spring - KBIA

Posted: 18 Jul 2019 03:44 PM PDT

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick on Thursday announced a low-interest loan program to help small-business owners and farmers who have suffered losses from storms and flooding this year.

LIFT (Linked Deposits to Invest and Fund a Timely Recovery) offers loans of up to $2 million for those affected by natural disasters. 

After severe storms and heavy flooding hit Missouri this spring, many small-business owners and farmers sustained millions of dollars in damage. In April, the Missouri Corn Growers Association conducted a voluntary survey to assess the damage for farmers across the state. The survey found that corn and soybean growers are projected to lose an estimated $24 million in revenue, but the total reflects only the loss for those who actually participated. 

"I know how important access to affordable capital can be for a small business in challenging times, from personal experience in business," Fitzpatrick said. "That's why we worked hard to create a program that can help Missouri farmers and small-business owners pick up the pieces and get back to work." 

These loans will be offered at a reduced interest rate, which is estimated to save the borrower an average of 30% on their interest payments. It also allows borrowers to refinance any existing debt. 

To participate in the program, applicants must have sustained damage in a county that received a major disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Those counties are: Andrew, Atchison, Boone, Buchanan, Carroll, Chariton, Cole, Greene, Holt, Jackson, Jasper, Lafayette, Lincoln, Livingston, Miller, Mississippi, New Madrid, Osage, Pemiscot, Perry, Pike, Platte, Pulaski, Ray, St. Charles, and St. Genevieve. 

Applicants will need to provide proof of economic injury or damages caused by a natural disaster that took place in 2019. 

More information on applicant requirements can be found here

For a full list of participating lenders, click here.

Follow Jaclyn on Twitter: @DriscollNPR

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

10 Things small businesses need to thrive - Davis Enterprise

Posted: 18 Jul 2019 03:15 PM PDT

Small businesses are leading the way to revitalize America. But small businesses can't do their important work without the support of the community they call home.

Small business success has been essential to community growth. It's important to not take one's eye off building small and mid-size companies, and we are so grateful to the many others who have shared ideas with us and risked their futures to help grow their own company and grow our economy. The most valuable of all are the companies that call this area home, yet they bring in their revenues from outside our area. It's not just moving money around, but instead a true influx of capital into our economy.

The bottom line is, strong communities are good for business.

So, what do small businesses need to thrive? Here are 10 things that must happen to create a great small business community.

1. A friendly regulatory environment. Small businesses need easy-to-understand codes from local government, as well as a solid understanding of whysuch regulations are in place. Too often (accurately or not) entrepreneurs and small business owners perceive that local governments put up hurdles for them to jump over.

2. A strong entrepreneurial support system. Small business owners need support and collegiality. Communities need to start and promote clubs and groups that allow them to connect with other entrepreneurs.

3. A culture of community support. Entrepreneurs need to feel that the community is invested in their well-being. Once leaders start this conversation, the community will respond. Once we made the case that small businesses make communities better, our citizens became huge supporters. People jump right in. They'll do anything to help make a small business successful.

4. Access to good employees/talent pool. Your town should be a place where people want to live. Safe neighborhoods, a strong education system, a vibrant downtown, and other amenities that add up to a good quality of life are must haves. Research shows that jobs and education are the two areas key to quality of life.

5. Strong mentors in the community to help entrepreneurs navigate what they don't know. Not only does this keep them from making costly mistakes, it helps them feel supported so they don't mind taking the risks necessary for growth.

6. Orchestrated growth around them. Growth begets more growth. When companies, non-profits, and other organizations are thriviang, new ventures are more likely to take off and thrive themselves. And that growth needs to be strategic and thoughtful. If you're a small business owner, what's to the left of you, the right of you, and across the street really matters.

7. A safe, clean environment in which to operate. Attractive urban and suburban spaces and low crime rates are good for business. If you're in an unsafe area, it won't matter how good your product or service is. Customers won't come.

8. Access to capital. Bank loans, government grants and other forms of assistance can go a long way toward helping small businesses invest in their future. And sometimes mentors can help connect them to silent partners for funding.

9. Access to leadership and business training. Around half of all businesses fail in the first five years. This is why it's so important that entrepreneurs learn the basics of leadership and sound business practices.

10. A commitment to promoting innovation and startups. Cities need to invest in their small shops, restaurants, and small- and mid-size businesses and make decisions that benefit them just as much as (if not more than) the big box retailers and manufacturing giants.

Communities can strive to create good environments for small business. We are all on the same journey to make people's lives better.

By Quint Studer
— Author of "Building a Vibrant Community:
How Citizen Powered Change is Reshaping America

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