IT security experts to fill in House subcommittee

Industry and government leaders will testify Thursday before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on the growing cybersecurity concerns facing small businesses.

Among the leaders scheduled to appear before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform and Oversight, part of the House Committee on Small Business, are Howard Schmidt, former White House cybersecurity adviser; Steven M. Martinez, deputy assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, and Ari Schwartz, deputy director for the Center for Democracy and Technology.

The hearing will explore the economic risks associated with small businesses increasingly relying on technology to run their operations, according to a statement from the office of Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., the subcommittee chairman.

"The subcommittee will examine what role the software industry and relevant government agencies play in protecting this critical component of our economy," the statement said.

As malicious attacks become more targeted, hackers consider small businesses the "low-lying fruits," said Chris Szymanski, a staff member with the Small Business Committee.

"If you're a mom-and-pop shop, you probably don't have an IT staff," he said, "but you're probably connected to the internet."

Symantec, in its latest Internet Security Threat Report, said targeted attacks on web applications and web browsers quickly are becoming the new hotbed of malicious activity.

"Attackers have moved away from large, multipurpose attacks on network perimeters and toward smaller, more focused attacks on client-side targets," the anti-virus vendor said.

In fact, Symantec's Enrique Salem, senior vice president of security products and solutions, is scheduled to testify Thursday, the vendor said.

His "remarks will focus on the challenges that small- and medium-sized businesses face in dealing with today's cyber threats and how their precautions for ensuring information security differ from those of large enterprises," Symantec said today in a statement.

"We're hoping to gain quite a bit of information from this," Szymanski said. "We're just asking questions. This is the first hearing for the committee on cybersecurity."

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