Businesses around the world and across a wide range of industries continue to reel from the biggest ransomware attack in history. The WannaCry ransomware attack hit more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, holding data hostage from hospitals, global shipping businesses, entertainment companies, and more. It’s a stark reminder of the digital risks facing all levels of government and all businesses and institutions in the digital age—and yet another reason for American businesses to step up their cybersecurity efforts.
While large businesses invest heavily in defense systems, many smaller firms often lack the tools or resources to protect themselves. To help close this gap, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is continuing our Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign with regional events around the country. The campaign is geared toward educating small and midsize businesses about cyber threats and best practices to defend their systems against intrusion. Originally launched in 2014, the campaign is in its fourth year. We kicked off our 2017 efforts in March hosting a conference with the Salt Lake Chamber and followed up with an event in South Carolina last month. The Chamber will hold three more regional roundtables leading up to our Sixth Annual Cybersecurity Summit in October.
The Chamber also continues to urge all businesses to use the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. The framework, which was updated earlier this year, provides practical guidance for companies to reduce network weaknesses.
While businesses take steps to protect themselves, the government must play a role too. The Chamber was encouraged that President Trump signed an executive order last month bolstering our nation’s cyber defenses. The measure emphasized the importance of strengthening public-private partnerships, which has long been a priority of the American business community. The Chamber will continue working with the administration to address cyber challenges, including streamlining the bureaucratic hurdles that impede private sector security efforts and promoting real-time information sharing between business and government.
It’s clear that this challenge will only grow in scope and sophistication—and businesses must prepare accordingly. Five years ago, people thought of cybersecurity mostly as an IT issue. More recently, it’s become a hot topic in boardrooms and a priority in the C-Suite. Today, cybersecurity must be a core management issue for all businesses—from the Fortune 500 to the mom-and-pop shop to the micro-entrepreneur. Every business must take steps to protect data, assets, and consumers. Doing so will promote a strong, secure, and resilient economy.