WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today voted to approve the bipartisan DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act, introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) to bolster cybersecurity. The legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to make permanent the “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams that 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. 

Our cyber response teams play a vital role in protecting critical networks and systems from cyber threats in both the public and private sectors,” Senator Portman said.I’m pleased the committee approved this important bill and look forward to final passage by the Senate so that we can give DHS the guidance and authorities it needs to execute this important mission.” 

“Our country faces ever-evolving cyber threats from Russia, China, criminal hackers, and cyber terrorists every single day, and these bipartisan bills will help bolster cyber defenses at federal agencies in order to better protect Americans,” Senator Hassan said. “While we have far more work to do, these bipartisan bills are important steps to strengthen our elite cyber defense teams, and I urge my colleagues across the aisle to bring these measures to the floor for a vote as quickly as possible.” 

NOTE: The bipartisan DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act would authorize the National Protection and Programs Directorate, under which the cyber response teams fall, and require DHS to maintain these teams and make them responsible for the following: 

  • Assisting asset owners and operators in restoring services following a cyber-incident;
  • Identifying potential cyber intrusions and cyber risks to its partners;
  • Developing mitigation strategies to prevent, deter, and protect against cyber threats; and
  • Providing recommendations to asset owners and operators for improving their network security. 

A companion bill, which was introduced by Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. 

Senators Portman and Hassan have worked together to strengthen cybersecurity and prevent against attacks that threaten the safety, privacy, and security of Americans. The bipartisan Portman-Hassan Hack Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Act unanimously passed the Senate earlier this year. The bipartisan bill would establish 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 DHS networks and information technology. Click here to read a joint op-ed in Time from Senators Portman and Hassan on their Hack DHS Act. Click here to read a joint op-ed in CNN from Senators Portman and Hassan on their DHS Cyber Incident Response Teams Act and their Hack DHS Act.  

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