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Senator Hassan Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Establish Cybersecurity Coordinators in New Hampshire and Across the Country

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan introduced bipartisan legislation to require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Cybersecurity State Coordinator position in every state. Each state would have its own federally funded Cybersecurity Coordinator, who would be responsible for helping to prevent and respond to cybersecurity threats by working with federal, state, and local governments as well as schools, hospitals, and other entities.


See below for coverage highlights:


AP: Hassan calls for cybersecurity coordinators in every state


Every state would have its own cybersecurity coordinator under a bill proposed by U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan.


Hassan, a New Hampshire Democrat, is co-sponsoring the legislation with Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Rob Portman of Ohio, and Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters.


It would require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a program to provide each state with a federally funded coordinator to prevent and respond to cybersecurity threats, such as the ransomware attacks recently experienced by Strafford County and the Sunapee school district.


The senators say it is vital that states have a point person to coordinate efforts with the federal government as cyber threats become more sophisticated.


The Hill: Cyberattacks against North Dakota state government skyrocket to 15M per month

By J. Edward Moreno


[…]  Local governments nationwide have seen an increase in cyberattacks. Often, foreign criminals will infect a government computer with ransomware, holding important government documents hostage until a certain amount of money is exchanged. 


[…] On Friday, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Cybersecurity State Coordinator Act, which would enact a federally funded program to establish state cybersecurity leaders nationwide, increasing the ability of states to respond to cyberattacks.


“Cyberattacks can be devastating for communities across our country, from ransomware attacks that can block access to school or medical records to cyberattacks that can shut down electrical grids or banking services,” Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) said in a statement.  


“The federal government needs to do more to ensure that state and local entities have the resources and training that they need to prevent and respond to cyberattacks,” Hassan added.


Federal Computer Week: Senators introduce bill to create state cyber coordinators at DHS

By Derek B. Johnson


A bipartisan group of senators have introduced legislation that would create new cybersecurity coordinator positions within the Department of Homeland Security for each state. 

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), would require the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to designate officials from within the agency to serve as the principal federal point of contact for state and local officials on cybersecurity matters. 


[…] "When New Hampshire’s Strafford County and Sunapee School District were hit by ransomware attacks this past year, officials had systems in place to mitigate damage," Hassan said. "But as they made clear to me, the federal government needs to do more to ensure that state and local entities have the resources and training that they need to prevent and respond to cyberattacks."

The director of CISA would also be required to brief the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees a year after the bill's passage on how effective the coordinators have been. 

State and local governments have been hammered by ransomware attacks over the past year, forced between having their data wiped and paying a hefty ransom that still doesn’t guarantee the attackers will unlock their computers and systems. CISA has been at the forefront of those warnings and launched a program last year focused on protecting voter registration databases and other election infrastructure from ransomware, according to Reuters.