Senator Portman Joins Bipartisan Colleagues in Introducing Bill to Establish Cybersecurity Coordinator in Every State

January 17, 2020 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Gary Peters (D-MI) today introduced a bipartisan bill to require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Cybersecurity State Coordinator program. This bipartisan legislation would ensure that 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. 

“Cybersecurity for state and local governments is just as important as federal cybersecurity, and frequently, they lack the resources, technical know-how, and situational awareness to secure their systems, or respond in the event of an attack,” Senator Portman said. “This bipartisan bill, which creates a Cybersecurity State Coordinator position, would help bolster state and local governments’ cybersecurity by facilitating their relationship with the federal government to ensure they know what preventative resources are available to them as well as who to turn to if an attack occurs.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to pass this important legislation.” 

“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,” said Senator Hassan. “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. 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 bipartisan bill I introduced would take a big step forward in improving communication between the federal government, states, and localities, as well as strengthening cybersecurity preparedness in communities across the country.” 

“With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated and formidable every day, it’s vital that states have a point person responsible for coordinating cybersecurity efforts with experts in the federal government,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “These coordinators would help states better understand relevant threats, access federal cybersecurity resources and respond to potential attacks. I’m proud to cosponsor this commonsense, bipartisan legislation, which will help to ensure that all levels of government are prepared to combat cyber criminals and protect their networks.” 

The Cybersecurity State Coordinator program would be housed in the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The State Coordinators would: 

·       Improve coordination within federal entities and between federal and non-federal entities, including state and local governments and other organizations

·       Support preparation, response, and remediation efforts relating to cybersecurity risks and incidents, including ransomware

·       Facilitate the sharing of cyber threat information

·       Raise awareness of financial, technical, and operational resources that the federal government offers to non-federal entities to help prevent cyber threats 

Senator Portman has led efforts to address state and local cybersecurity threats as a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus. Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Portman and Hassan to bolster cybersecurity in the public and private sector was signed into law as part of the final bipartisan budget agreement last month. Senators Portman and Hassan’s bipartisan Hack Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Act and Public-Private Cybersecurity Cooperation Act were included in a package of bills that were signed into law in 2018.  

Read the text of the legislation that Senators Portman, Hassan, Cornyn, and Peters introduced HERE.  

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