Bipartisan Amendment Will Create Cybersecurity State Coordinators in Each State
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included a bipartisan amendment introduced by U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Rob Portman (R-OH), to require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Cybersecurity State Coordinator position in every state. The bipartisan legislation now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Under the legislation, 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. This amendment mirrors the Cybersecurity State Coordinator Act that the Senators introduced earlier this year, and in March, the Homeland Security Committee voted on a bipartisan basis to approve this legislation.
“Cyberattacks on our hospitals, schools, and local governments are becoming an increasingly common occurrence, especially amid this pandemic. We must provide these entities with the support that they need to prevent and mitigate cyberattacks,” Senator Hassan said. “The Senate took an important step to help bolster cybersecurity at all levels of government by passing our bipartisan measure to create a Cybersecurity Coordinator position in every state as part of the national defense bill. These cyber experts will be a bridge between the federal government and state and local entities, and it is imperative that the President swiftly sign this bipartisan bill into law.”
“Cyber-threats to communities across the United States continue to increase and put the safety of Americans at risk,” said Senator Peters. “Having coordinators to help support state cyber-defense efforts will be critical to helping them better understand relevant threats, access federal cybersecurity resources and respond to potential attacks. I am proud of this bipartisan amendment to help ensure that all levels of government are prepared to protect their networks.”
“Cybersecurity for state and local governments is just as important as efforts at the federal level, and frequently, they lack the resources, technical know-how, and situational awareness to secure their systems, or respond in the event of an attack,” said Senator Portman. “I’m pleased that this bipartisan proposal is included in the Senate-passed NDAA conference report because it will strengthen the cybersecurity relationship between the federal government and state and local governments.”
Senator Hassan has prioritized efforts to address state and local cybersecurity threats as a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) and the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus. The Senator recently co-led a hearing on the importance of bolstering cybersecurity for state and local governments and other entities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, after ransomware attacks hit Strafford County and Sunapee School District in New Hampshire last year, Senator Hassan met with officials to discuss what more the federal government can do to help protect against these attacks.