September 23, 2021

Senator Hassan Highlights Ways to Strengthen Cybersecurity Workforce at Senate Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today questioned top administration cybersecurity officials on ways to strengthen cybersecurity at all levels of government during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.


To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.


Senator Hassan began by focusing on building up the cyber workforce at a federal, state, and local level.


“One of the biggest impediments to improving cybersecurity is the shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals at a federal, state, and local level,” said Senator Hassan. “So I’ve introduced, along with Senator Cornyn, the bipartisan Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Expansion Act. The act would authorize a registered cybersecurity apprenticeship program at CISA, and it would also create a veterans cybersecurity training program at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”


Senator Hassan asked Jen Easterly, Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and Chris Inglis, National Cyber Director for the Executive Office of the President, about how apprenticeships would help strengthen the cybersecurity workforce.


“I think we need to be as creative as possible in all our approaches to deal with the deficit that we have across the country and then across the federal cyber workforce,” said Director Easterly. “So anything to do with workforce, Senator, I would love to work with you and your team and this committee.”


“I think apprenticeships are essential, not simply because they provide experience for its own sake, but they bridge the gap between aspiration that is often supported by training and education, and the real experience that employers need or want when you show up at that door. And it helps to transition from one phase to another in terms of one’s work life,” said Director Inglis.


In her questioning, Senator Hassan also highlighted another bipartisan bill with Senator Cornyn which would update and improve federal agencies’ cybersecurity.


In addition, Senator Hassan pressed Director Easterly on how CISA is supporting agency efforts to modernize their aging IT systems. Earlier this year, the Senator led a hearing to discuss the costs of the federal government running outdated and inefficient information technology systems, as well as the barriers to modernizing those systems. Easterly shared that CISA is taking aggressive steps to address this complex issue. Next week, Senator Hassan will lead a subcommittee hearing on the federal government’s IT management resources, the services available to agencies to modernize their aging systems, and ways to improve those programs while saving taxpayers money.


Senator Hassan has led efforts to strengthen cybersecurity. Senator Hassan’s bill, The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, creates a state and local cybersecurity grant program and recently passed the Senate as part of the bipartisan infrastructure package. The bill authorizes a new grant program at the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to improving cybersecurity for state, local, tribal, and territorial entities. The latest National Defense Authorization Act, which is now law, included a bipartisan amendment that Senator Hassan introduced to create a cybersecurity state coordinator in each state. Furthermore, in an effort to bolster cybersecurity within the federal government, Senators Hassan and Rob Portman (R-OH) passed into law the bipartisan Hack DHS Act, which establishes a bug bounty pilot program – modeled off of similar programs at the Department of Defense and major tech companies – that uses vetted “white-hat” or ethical hackers to help identify unique and undiscovered vulnerabilities in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) networks and information technology.