Paying Small Business to Implement Cybersecurity
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2019 /Winquest Engineering Corporation/ — Winquest Engineering Corporation’s President & CEO, John Leitch, proposed a national-level cybersecurity incentive for small businesses during recent meetings attended by Congressional leaders. Leitch made his proposal while sharing insights about the state of small business cybersecurity at a recent event, the Congressional Roundup, held by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. Over the years, he’s observed a trend of small businesses failing to acknowledge their vulnerability to a cyber incident. In many cases, they refuse to talk about cybersecurity risk —a national security issue due to the economic importance small businesses have to the U.S. economy. Leitch quoted a Small Business Administration report that states U.S. small businesses contributed $5.9 trillion of the $13.6 trillion annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 2014 (the latest date the report studied).
Yet, as important as they are to our economy, small businesses have the greatest risk of shutting down due to a lack of cybersecurity knowledge to help avoid or recover from a cyber incident (one that deletes all customer data, for example). The cybersecurity industry is working hard to help, but most small businesses avoid the issue because of fear or anxiety, referred to as Cybersecuriphobia by Leitch.
Despite efforts by regulators and various organizations, most small businesses aren’t paying attention to their risk. A responsible business owner should protect their data as well as their customer’s data, but the truth is that most don’t. This led Leitch to think about the best motivator for a business – money – or in this case, money in the form of tax incentives.
Leitch cites two successful Maryland financial incentive programs that could be replicated at the national level. In 2018, the Maryland legislature passed the Buy Maryland Cybersecurity Tax Credit which encourages small businesses to purchase cybersecurity technologies and services from qualified Maryland companies. This would provide a tax credit for 50 percent of the purchase price up to up to $50,000 in tax credits in a single tax year. The other program is the Maryland Defense Cybersecurity Assistance Program which provides reimbursements up to $10,000 for companies to comply with NIST cybersecurity standards. Leitch was involved in early development of both programs and sees their positive impact on Maryland’s companies and cybersecurity industry.
Leitch said, “We’ve had tax credits and incentives for solar power, wind power and electric cars because alternative energy is important to our economy. It’s time to provide similar cybersecurity incentives for the $5.9 trillion small businesses community.”
Leitch is a business owner, not a lobbyist, and is working to encourage elected officials to support a national level cybersecurity incentive.
Winquest Engineering Corporation includes Winquest Cybersecurity Services as one of its business divisions. Winquest Cybersecurity conducts vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, incident response and other services for clients ranging from two-person investment advisor firms to $6 billion manufacturer-retailers. The Winquest Cybersecurity mission is to “Make cybersecurity available and affordable for ALL businesses”. For more information, please see https://winquestcyber.com.