Senate Passes Portman’s Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Cybersecurity Coordination with State and Local Governments

November 25, 2019 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI) to promote stronger cybersecurity coordination between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local governments. The State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act would encourage national cybersecurity watchdogs to share information regarding cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and breaches as well as resources to prevent and recover from cyber-attacks with states and localities who are increasingly targeted by bad actors. 

“Hackers with malicious intent can and do attack state and local cyber infrastructure consistently. Sometimes, state and local governments need some additional help or access to expertise to mitigate these threats,” said Senator Portman. “I'm pleased the Senate has passed this legislation to strengthen an existing relationship between the Department of Homeland Security and state and local partners to improve coordination and information sharing to help protect our IT infrastructure at all levels of government.” 

“State and local governments with limited resources and cybersecurity expertise can struggle to secure their systems against malicious hackers that could expose their constituents’ personal data,” said Senator Peters. “I’m pleased the Senate passed my bipartisan bill that will help ensure all levels of government can bolster their defenses and protect themselves from sophisticated cyber-attacks.”  

State and local governments increasingly find themselves targeted by high-profile cyber-attacks, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and threatening the data privacy of millions of Americans. In recent years, hackers have successfully breached cybersecurity defenses in Atlanta, Colorado, Baltimore and Louisiana. State and local governments are an attractive target because they possess a broad array of information about their citizens but often do not have the tools to adequately safeguard their systems. Financial constraints, limited resources and outdated equipment can all hinder local governments’ efforts to safeguard the personal data they collect. 

The State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act would facilitate coordination between DHS and state and local governments in several key areas. The legislation would permit the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) to provide state and local actors with access to improved security tools, policies and procedures, while also encouraging collaboration for the effective implementation of those resources, including joint cybersecurity exercises. The legislation would also build on previous efforts by the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) to prevent, protect, and respond to future cybersecurity incidents. These changes would also ensure that government officials and their staffs have access to the hardware and software products needed to bolster their cyber defenses.

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