Statement of the Hon. Nydia Velazquez on Strengthening the Cybersecurity Posture of America’s Small Business Community
Washington, July 20, 2021
As new technology has made America more dependent on digital tools, malicious actors have been launching more frequent and severe cyber-attacks. In the early months of 2021, we’ve seen a wide array of headlines detailing attacks on institutions like large corporations and municipal governments.
Just yesterday, the Biden administration acknowledged that hackers affiliated with the Chinese government were responsible for hacking Microsoft email systems, compromising tens of thousands of computers worldwide and exposing reams of sensitive data. The fallout of the attack is still being evaluated, but it’s estimated the hack could have affected hundreds of thousands of small businesses. Episodes like this exhibit the significant threat cyber-attacks pose to small businesses.
This risk has increased in recent years as small businesses have begun to rely more heavily on digital technologies. According to the Connected Commerce Council, 72 percent of small firms increased use of digital tools during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, as digital adoption has increased, investment in security measures hasn’t kept pace. Small businesses often don’t have the resources to invest in an adequate cyber defense system or hire a dedicated specialist. Guarding against cyber-attacks often comes with high implementation costs and substantial investments of time and resources. Many are already stretched thin when it comes to margins and human resources.
But failing to prepare for a cyber-attack can have disastrous impacts. Damage to information systems, regulatory fines, lost customer trust, decreased productivity, and lost income are all potential consequences of a cyber breach.
Because of their structural importance to the overall economy, attacks on small firms can have severe impacts on larger enterprises and governments connected to them through the supply chain. Given the greater risk cyber-attacks pose to small employers and their limited capacity to protect against them, this committee must find ways to help entrepreneurs strengthen their cybersecurity posture. Today’s hearing gives us the chance to examine how existing cyber resources can be enhanced and integrated into small business support mechanisms.
I also look forward to discussing new initiatives that can alleviate the financial burden of cybersecurity preparedness. Small businesses are the foundation of our economy, so their vulnerability is our nation’s vulnerability. Investment in their security will make us all more secure.