U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.), introduced the Small Business Cyber Security Improvements Act of 2016, which would enable the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) to work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assist small businesses in planning for and protecting against cyber security attacks

“Cyber security threats have increasingly become a major problem, especially for small businesses who often have to employ costly services and expertise beyond the scope of their day-to-day responsibilities,” said Senator Vitter. “For more than 30 years, SBDCs have been on the ground helping small businesses with cyber security threats, and my bipartisan legislation with Senator Peters will provide American entrepreneurs with better access to the resources, tools, and guidance they need to protect their finances and private customer information.”

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy, but cyber security attacks pose serious threats to their businesses and their customers,” said Senator Peters. “I am proud to join Senator Vitter in introducing this bill to provide hardworking Americans with the resources they need to protect their livelihood from cyber threats. We must help ensure small firms can enhance their cyber security infrastructure and preparedness, so that they can continue to focus on creating jobs, spurring innovation, and expanding economic opportunity.”

For years, Vitter has been pushing for increased cyber security protections for small businesses. His bipartisan bill with Peters would authorize the creation of an SBDC Cyber Strategy through a partnership between SBA and DHS, allowing DHS to provide cyber security risk information and other homeland security information to help small businesses develop and enhance their cyber security infrastructure, cyber threat awareness, and cyber training programs for employees.

The legislation would also direct the Comptroller General to conduct a review of current cyber security resources of Federal agencies aimed at assisting small businesses with developing or enhancing cyber security infrastructure, cyber threat awareness, and cyber training programs for employees. Following the review, the SBA and DHS will work with SBDCs to formulate a plan to address cyber security concerns for small businesses.

U.S. Representatives Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) have introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, which currently has 15 bipartisan cosponsors.