January 20, 2022 2 min read

Protecting employers from cyberattacks

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The threat of a cyberattack looms over every Missouri business — large and small.

In fact, nearly 90 percent of Missouri businesses today are concerned about cybersecurity, with roughly a quarter of businesses citing this issue as a top concern, according to a recent survey by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

To combat this problem, the Missouri Chamber is leading an effort to establish an innovative, first-in-the-nation, cybersecurity grant program in Missouri to help employers enhance their security measures.

The grant would be established under Senate Bill 674 by Sen. Lincoln Hough, a Republican from Springfield. The Missouri Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight heard from business and cybersecurity experts about the need for urgent action during a hearing on January 20.

“As we all see this digital age continue to grow, and as we are as interconnected as we are — we are also vulnerable,” said Sen. Hough.

Joey Smith is the chief information security officer for Schnuck Markets, Inc.

The legislation calls for up $10 million in grants to be invested in protecting Missouri employers from cyberattacks. The legislation would ensure companies of all sizes can participate by equally dividing the funding between small, medium and large-sized businesses.

“If you are a small bakery, a gym owner or even a larger industry, you’re really good at what you do,” Joey Smith, chief information security officer for Schnuck Markets, Inc. “But that doesn’t mean you are really good at the cybersecurity aspect of running a business.”

The legislation is supported by the Missouri Chamber’s Missouri Tech Alliance. During the hearing, the University of Central Missouri and BJC HealthCare — both alliance members — testified in support of the legislation.

Missouri Technology AllianceThe grant program would fund up to 90% of the cost of implementing a wide variety of cybersecurity protections including things like risk assessments, software and employee training in cyber threat prevention. The employer would need to cover the remaining 10%.

Kara Corches, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs, testified that the bill would help employers confront a growing threat that has the potential to impact our economy.

“Unfortunately, we know that many Missouri businesses either don’t have professional IT support, don’t have the resources or don’t even know where to start,” Corches said. “This bill helps those businesses have a place to start.”

For more information, contact Corches at kcorches@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.


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