N.J. may help small businesses protect customer data

Assemblyman Craig Coughlin proposes offering small businesses low-interest loans to cover costs of installing equipment and software that safeguards data systems from cyber-attacks. (Phil Gregory / WHYY)

Assemblyman Craig Coughlin proposes offering small businesses low-interest loans to cover costs of installing equipment and software that safeguards data systems from cyber-attacks. (Phil Gregory / WHYY)

A measure advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would help small businesses protect their customers’ personal information.

Assemblyman Craig Coughlin’s bill would facilitate low-interest loans from the state to businesses to cover costs of installing equipment and software that safeguards data systems from cyber-attacks.

“There have been data breaches in places where ransomware has taken effect and will hold people’s data hostage in order to be paid,” said Coughlin, D-Middlesex. “So we’re trying to give the incentive for businesses to get ahead of that curve.”

Carol Katz with the New Jersey Credit Union League said the legislation would significantly assist small credit unions in the state.

“Our credit unions are very committed to protecting consumers’ financial privacy and are subject to a number of laws requiring that they do so,” Katz said. “While they have a strong commitment to that, there is a considerable cost to it, and we appreciate the benefit that this bill will provide in helping them to meet those costs.”

It’s challenging for businesses to safeguard consumer data, Coughlin said, and the loans would allow them to do so more aggressively.

“It’s something that is always out there that businesses spend small fortunes to try and protect against it,” he said. “It’s an ongoing challenge to every business because the bad guys are out there, and every day they’re trying to breach security systems and get people’s personal information.”

The New Jersey Credit Union League said credit unions have a strong commitment to complying with laws to protect customers’ financial privacy, and appreciate the help the legislation would provide in meeting the considerable costs of doing that.

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