Peters and Braun Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Government’s Cybersecurity Capabilities Passes Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Bipartisan legislation to better prepare federal employees to address cybersecurity threats authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Mike Braun (R-IN) has advanced in the Senate. This bill strengthens the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition by expanding this national competition that identifies and trains the best cybersecurity talent in the federal workforce. The bill would add categories in the competition on operational technology (OT) and industrial control systems (ICS) which have previously been overlooked in the cybersecurity world despite their importance. Often called the ‘backbone’ of industry, OT and ICS can be found across critical infrastructure sectors, in factories, and in the utility companies that serve our communities. The bill was advanced by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee where Peters serves as Chair, and now moves to the full Senate for consideration. 

“By ensuring our nation has a highly trained and talented cybersecurity workforce, we can better prepare for cybersecurity threats and prevent attacks,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan bill will strengthen the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition to strengthen our cybersecurity defenses against foreign adversaries.” 

“The United States prides itself in being a champion in cyber security innovation, with many technical advancements coming out of Indiana. I’m proudly cosponsoring this bill that will enhance our national cybersecurity training competition and ultimately protect American technology from cyber-attacks from around the world,” said Senator Braun.

Established in 2019, the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition is a national competition to train, identify, recognize, and reward the best cybersecurity talent in the federal workforce. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) leads and hosts the President’s Cup as part of their mission to expand the size and capabilities of the U.S. cyber workforce.  

The bipartisan Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Competition Act ensures the competition includes testing of skills relevant to cybersecurity for operational technology and industrial control systems to ensure federal cybersecurity professionals are able to effectively work with and support critical infrastructure sectors.  Most major industries and utility companies rely on OT and ICS to perform important tasks such as distributing power across states, pumping water from reservoirs, and assembling vehicles in factories. In the U.S., water utility companies in particular have seen their internet-connected ICS devices targeted and hacked by foreign adversaries. In November 2023, at least 10 water utility companies across the U.S. were hacked by an Iran-backed group, allowing the hackers to shut down remotely controlled devices that monitor and regulate pumping station water pressure.