February 7, 2023 2 min read

Missouri Chamber supports cybersecurity grant legislation

The threat of cyberattacks on business is more severe today than ever before.

With this in mind, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is in strong support of HB 668, sponsored by Rep. Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg), which creates a grant program for employers to help enhance their cybersecurity protection.

Houx recently testified about the bill at a hearing of the House Special Committee on Homeland Security. This bill establishes a one-time grant program for businesses to enhance their cybersecurity protection. This legislation caps the grant program at $10 million but is subject to appropriations. It also caps individual awards for businesses at $15,000 total (one-time opportunity not annually), and prioritizes small business funding by reserving 50 percent of the funds for small businesses with 1-50 employees.

“The businesses have to show they did the actual upgrades to their computer systems,” Houx told the committee. “The small businesses in the state need this because they don’t know they’re getting hammered. We’ve got a member of our body whose computer system was hacked for a ransom of $250,000.” 

Missouri Chamber Vice President of Governmental Affairs Kara Corches testified that many people often think these attacks occur primarily on large businesses or governmental agencies, but small businesses are actually the most common prey for cybercriminals.

“The bill provides flexibility in how funds can be used, which is incredibly important because all businesses are different and their industries, infrastructures and staffing all require unique cybersecurity plans. It is not a one-size-fits-all type of investment,” Corches said. “Ninety percent of business owners felt their business was vulnerable to a cyberattack, yet many can’t afford professional IT solutions, have limited time to devote to cybersecurity, or they don’t know where to begin. A restaurant owner is really good at serving food but is not going to be an expert at mitigating cyber risk of its payment systems.”

One recent study found that Missouri is outpacing other states in financial loss from cyberattacks. Missouri businesses were the No. 1 victims of business email compromise (phishing) attacks in 2020 with an average per-incident loss of over $375,000. Furthermore, Missouri is the second costliest state in the nation for cybercrime.

A companion cybersecurity bill (SB 380) is being sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Brian Williams (D-St. Louis). For more information, contact Corches at kcorches@mochamber.com or call (573) 634-3511.

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