(Washington, DC) – Today, during a Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship hearing on cybersecurity, Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) lauded Maryland’s efforts to help expand cybersecurity resources to small businesses as a potential model for the nation.

“I’m proud Maryland is a national leader in helping expand cybersecurity resources to small businesses so they can not only be prepared for cyber threats, but recover when hackers strike,” Ranking Member Cardin said during his opening statement. Click here to download a video of the complete opening statement.

Maryland is leading the nation in the cybersecurity industry with its uniquely qualified workforce and start-up investment opportunity. Not only is the state home to the nation’s top government and academic cybersecurity assets—including the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab—the state is a national leader in the effort to expand cybersecurity resources to small businesses.

Last year, the state enacted first-of-its-kind bipartisan legislation to provide tax credits to small businesses that purchase cybersecurity products or services from a local qualified firm. The bill also created a tax credit for investors who invest in Maryland cybersecurity companies.

Cardin lauded Maryland’s approach to small business cybersecurity in an exchange with Cyber Association of Maryland, Inc. (CAMI) Executive Director Stacey Smith. Excerpts of the exchange follow:

Cardin: “It’s a little early, I guess, to know the exact impact [of the tax credit], but can you tell us what you’ve been hearing from the small business community with regard to the attractiveness of this tool?”

Smith: “…we work closely with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland and Regional Manufacturing Institute [of Maryland], and they’re getting the word out to their businesses, who are excited about [the tax credit]… Right now, it’s figuring out who’s the qualified sellers that they can purchase those products from and what do they need. A lot of [small businesses] don’t even know, ‘What do I need? Where do I start?”

Cardin continued: “I’m a believer in federalism so we’re watching very closely what you’re doing in MD. We might try to take some of those programs and look at them as national programs, so we’ll be following very closely what’s happening in the great state of Maryland.”

The hearing came hours after Ranking Member Cardin joined Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) to introduce the SBA Cyber Awareness Act this morning. The bipartisan bill would ensure that the information technology (IT) systems at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are protected from cyber criminals by requiring the SBA to:

  • assess its internal cybersecurity, including determining the countries-of-origin for its IT products;
  • develop an agency cyber strategy and report the strategy to the Senate and House Small Business Committees after the bill is enacted and annually thereafter; and
  • report to the Senate and House small Business committees on actions taken to secure agency data and systems, newly identified threats and breaches, and any actions taken to mitigate breaches and threats.

Video of the entire hearing is available here.