The Business Journal has reported several stories the past two weeks focused on IT issues, but there is perhaps no issue more important to small businesses and startups than cybersecurity. Once again, it may be no surprise that innovative security programs in this entrepreneurial region are now looked upon as a national model.
The Business Journal notes the efforts of the Michigan Small Business Development Center, headquartered at the Grand Valley State University’s Grand Rapids downtown campus, for its Small Business, Big Threat program, launched in 2015. The program has offered regular updates, reviews and white papers to legislators, an effort that may finally be paying off.
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, last month introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation proposing a Small Business Development Center Cyber Training Act, which would require 10 percent of SBDC employees to get certified in cyber strategy counseling. Peters is a member of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus and introduced the legislation in the Senate with Senators Jim Risch, R-Idaho, chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, and Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois. Keith Brophy, state director of the MI-SBDC, noted in the Business Journal story, the law “would provide a much deeper emphasis within the SBDC. What we’re doing is unique to Michigan, but this would build it into every SBDC.” He said it’s “encouraging” to see legislators taking the problem seriously.
Brophy and IT executives have emphasized repeatedly in Business Journal stories the importance for small business owners to take safety steps to ensure against cyberattacks, just as they take other fire and safety precautions. MI-SBDC notes 60 percent of small businesses that have been hacked go out of business or are greatly impaired. Gary Lutz, president of strategy and consulting firm IT Resource Inc., emphasized to the Business Journal that “security protection is not only the responsibility of IT; everyone in the organization is responsible, and every employee has to know what to do.” He noted ransomware can easily be triggered by a staff member “who might click something or hit something, and it gets into the system.”
Grand Rapids Business Journal notes the easy accessibility of the Small Business, Big Threat online resource and urges small business owners and startup entrepreneurs to avail themselves of such expertise to protect their investment and that of the local business economy.
As Brophy noted, “Small businesses have less money to stay safe, and so they’re increasingly the target of hackers. It’s a much-needed focus.”