August 01, 2018

Senators Hassan and Portman Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Cybersecurity Efforts at Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, yesterday Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced a bipartisan bill that would bolster cybersecurity by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make permanent the “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams that work to help prevent cyberattacks on federal agencies, critical infrastructure, and the private sector, as well as help mitigate the impact of such attacks when they occur. 

The bipartisan DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act of 2018 works to prevent cyberattacks like the reported Russian hacking attacks on U.S. electric utility companies by encouraging private sector participation with the cyber response teams. A companion bill, which was introduced by Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX-10), passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

See below for highlights of the coverage:

From Wired:

As the threat of cyberattacks on the United States launched by foreign adversaries grows, the federal government has been slow to respond. But changes announced Tuesday at the Department of Homeland Security, along with a new bipartisan bill aimed at shoring up DHS cybersecurity initiatives, could give newfound purpose to defenses against critical infrastructure hacking.

At a cybersecurity summit Tuesday, Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the creation of the National Risk Management Center, which will focus on evaluating threats and defending US critical infrastructure against hacking. The center will focus on the energy, finance, and telecommunications sectors to start, and DHS will conduct a number of 90-day “sprints” throughout 2018 in an attempt to rapidly build out the center’s processes and capabilities.

Also on Tuesday, senators Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced a bill to that effect. The so-called DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act of 2018 seeks to establish permanent “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams within DHS. These groups would work on cybersecurity defense for federal agencies and private entities and help respond to incidents.

"By encouraging private sector collaboration with the cyber response teams, this bill will help leverage the expertise of both the public and private sectors to help prevent cyberattacks from happening in the first place and mitigate the impacts when they occur," said Hassan in announcing the bill; the House of Representatives already passed its version several months ago.

From Politico Pro:

A bipartisan pair of senators is proposing legislation that would make permanent DHS cyber incident response and hunt teams designed to assist industry and other organizations that are common hacker targets.

The DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act of 2018 by Sens. Maggie Hassan and Rob Portman is a companion bill to a House measure introduced by Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul earlier this year, H.R. 5074 (115). 

… "By encouraging private sector collaboration with the cyber response teams, this bill will help leverage the expertise of both the public and private sectors to help prevent cyberattacks from happening in the first place and mitigate the impacts when they occur," Hassan, who serves on the Senate Homeland Security Committee along with Portman, said in a statement.

Portman said the cyber response teams "are important resources to protect critical networks and systems from cyber threats in both the public and private sectors."

"I look forward to moving this important authorization through the Senate and to the president so that we can give DHS the guidance and authorities they need to execute this important mission," the Ohio Republican added.

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