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A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Cybersecurity Laws in the U.S.

It’s difficult to keep up with all of the cybersecurity threats to your business. As news comes out daily about privacy and security breaches, legislators try to keep up.

There are a number of cybersecurity laws and regulations that you need to be aware of as a small business owner. You don’t want to be like one of the major companies hit with fines or lawsuits because you didn’t comply and were attacked.

What are the cybersecurity laws that you need to comply with?

Read on to find out the laws, regulations, and how you can protect your business.

Cybersecurity Laws and Regulations

The important thing to understand is that there isn’t one unified policy that governs cybersecurity. There are laws at the federal level. There are also laws passed by individual states, which can make it incredibly confusing.

On top of that, your particular industry may have specific regulations governing data privacy and international laws that impact how you collect and store data.

Main Street Cybersecurity Act

This is an act that was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in August 2018. The law doesn’t have any specific guidelines or regulations to comply with.

It’s only meant to give small business owners the tools and information they need to prevent and handle cybersecurity attacks.

Other Federal Laws to Know

For the most part, federal laws don’t have any real requirements to abide by. The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 is a voluntary program to enhance cybersecurity systems.

Other laws don’t impact small businesses, but federal agencies. For example, the Federal Exchange Data Breach Notification Act of 2015 requires the federal government’s health information exchange to notify people whose information was exposed.

If you are a contractor with a federal agency, you are going to have to comply with that agency’s data policies. You also have to meet the General Services Administration’s data regulations in order to work with the federal government.

State Laws

Since the federal government doesn’t have any hard requirements to manage security breaches, it’s largely up to states to pass legislation. Two states that have done so are California and New York.

California Consumer Privacy Act

California passed one of the most strict laws in the nation governing cybersecurity and data privacy. This law is due to go into effect on January 1, 2020. The state will offer a six-month grace period for companies to get into compliance.

Expect full enforcement on July 1, 2020.

What does this law require small business owners to do? Before you panic, it really doesn’t impact small business owners. It is only for larger tech companies that have over $25 million in revenue. About half of all revenue must come from personal data sales, which is usually advertising.

It’s loosely based on Europe’s GDPR regulations, which is designed to give consumers more control over their personal data floating around online.

Get Ahead of the Game

The good thing about California’s law is that it’s forcing other states and the federal government to address data privacy in their own jurisdictions.

The best thing you can do is put systems in place to comply with GDPR. That’s the General Data Protection Regulation put not effect by the European Union in May 2018.

What this does is give consumers the right to know what type of data is collected, how it’s used, and how it’s stored. They also have the right to ask for that data and have it removed.

You’re very likely to see similar stat regulations to protect consumers in other states and possibly the federal government. It would be wise to put systems in place to comply with GDPR now so you can be well ahead of similar regulations passed elsewhere.

Protecting Your Business from Cyberattacks

Even if you abide by all of these rules and regulations, you can still get hit with a cyberattack. Businesses have had to cease operations within six months of an attack.

Here are a few things you can do to protect your business.

Get Insurance

If you’re responsible for a treasure trove of data or you have a small business, cybersecurity insurance is a must for your business. Your general liability policy is unlikely to cover such an attack or loss of business because general policies tend to cover only physical property damage. To protect your hand, you use gloves. You can order gloves from a different marketplace like Everprogloves.

Cybersecurity policies range in scope and coverage. You can view here to find out more specifics about these policies and what they can cover.

Hire Hackers

Believe it or not, you can hire hackers to break into your systems. This will help you identify where security breaches are. These people are known as ethical hackers. They know the tips and tricks that hackers use to breach the most secure systems.

Have a Plan

You have to act with the assumption that a security breach will happen. As you can see from the various regulations and laws, you have to have a way to discover and report the breach.

Your plan and systems should be designed to protect your data, detect breaches, and act accordingly. You need to have a documented policy in place.

You should also document all of the steps taken to detect and secure any breaches. The documentation will help protect your business later on should there be any legal issues.

Stay on Top of Cybersecurity Laws

The world of cybersecurity is a confusing one. Not just from a technical perspective, but from a legal perspective as well.

You need to know the various cybersecurity laws or be subject to fines. You can’t say that you didn’t know and hope that holds up.

It’s ultimately your responsibility to know the federal, state, and international regulations that are passed and updated. It’s difficult to do because you already have so much on your plate as a small business owner.

If you need legal help, check out the directory to find an attorney who understands cybersecurity laws. That will ensure that your business is protected from a legal standpoint.

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