Missouri National Guard’s Cybersecurity Efforts Are Focus of McCaskill Senate Hearing

WASHINGTON – During a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing today, the Committee’s top-ranking Democrat, Claire McCaskill, highlighted the Missouri National Guard’s innovative efforts to strengthen Missouri’s and the country’s cybersecurity. McCaskill invited witness Kevin Keeney, a captain in Missouri’s National Guard and who in his civilian life is director of cyber incident response at a Fortune 200 company, to testify at the hearing.

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“I take great pride that the citizens of Missouri have a vital role in defending our nation from cyberattacks,” McCaskill said. “Mr. Keeney has been integral in developing the Missouri National Guard’s cyber architecture, which is playing a key role in training units throughout the country to safeguard their systems.” In response to questions from McCaskill, Keeney discussed the cyber kits his team creates that enable the National Guard to monitor critical infrastructure networks in the state, like the system running a dam, without disrupting the system. The kits Captain Keeney’s team develop and build allow the Guard to identify and neutralize an intrusion without breaking or disrupting the dam’s operating system. “This project has taken off like a rocket ship,” stated Keeney. “It is now by my estimation… used by 40 different government entities: military, federal agencies, research entities, and it is also being used in the commercial market.”

McCaskill also discussed the bipartisan efforts she is spearheading to improve how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is organized to ensure that the Department’s cyber mission is a top tier priority. “We need to ensure that our government is properly organized to protect the country against cyber threats,” McCaskill stated. “Despite the significant role the Department plays in the nation’s cybersecurity efforts, cyber appears to be a secondary function within DHS. That needs to change, which is why I’m excited that our bipartisan and bicameral staffs are discussing legislation that aims to appropriately elevate and operationalize DHS’s cyber mission.”

McCaskill has long supported Congressional action to address the nation’s vulnerability to cyberattacks. Recently, McCaskill signed on to cosponsor a bipartisan bill that will help Missouri small businesses protect themselves against cyberattacks. Following the Office of Personnel Management data breach, which compromised the personal information of at least 21.5 million individuals, McCaskill and a group of bipartisan Senators introduced language that was signed into law increasing the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to protect federal civilian networks from cyberattacks.