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Congress Hears Of SMEs' Inflated Cybercrime Risks

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The Federal Reserve has taken cybersecurity to task with its latest efforts to consider safeguards for the financial services sector, but the Fed isn't the only U.S. government entity looking at cybersecurity.

Congressional lawmakers last week heard testimony on the risks small businesses face with regards to cybersecurity. Reports this week detailed the testimony of George Mason University adjunct law professor Jamil Jaffer, who explained to the House Small Business Committee that SMEs that are unable or fail to protect themselves against cyberthreats make them a bigger target for criminals.

Jaffer explained that, while SMEs may be ignorant to this threat, a lack of financial resources and other tools makes protecting themselves in this regard that much more difficult.

The witness also cited Cisco Systems research that found that fewer SMEs in the U.S. deployed software to make their internet and mobile sites more secure in 2015 than they did in 2014. Analysts also found that nearly one-quarter of SMEs believes that they aren't a major target for cybercrime.

Reports said Nisos Group Cofounder Justin Zeefe pointed to this lack of awareness among small businesses as to just how vulnerable they are means not only are these companies at risk, but they're also putting their larger corporate partners — to whom they supply goods or services — at risk, too.

"Malicious hackers follow the path of least resistance," Zeefe said, according to Yahoo Finance.

Another expert, public policy adviser at Wiley Rein law firm Nova Daly, said SMEs' lack of financial resources to protect themselves is a problem, as is their lack of awareness and access to information when alerts are issued about potential cybercrime.

"Often, larger companies have the resources to continually monitor and review threats that may arise from certain technology and supply chains and, at times, are contacted by the U.S. government when breaches occur," Daly explained.

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