WASHINGTON, DC – Legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to promote stronger cybersecurity coordination between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local governments has passed the House. The bipartisan State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act would require federal cybersecurity experts 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. The bill has already passed the Senate and now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
“State and local governments in Michigan and across the nation continue to be targeted by cybercriminals and other malicious actors. These attacks can prevent access to essential services, compromise sensitive and personal information, and disrupt our daily lives and livelihoods,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense legislation will strengthen coordination between all levels of government and give local officials in Michigan and across the country additional tools and resources to combat cyber-attacks. I look forward to seeing the President sign this bipartisan bill into law.”
“As we’ve seen from the many recent cyberattacks, hackers with malicious intent can and do attack state and local cyber infrastructure. Sometimes, state and local governments need some additional help or access to expertise to address these threats,” said Senator Portman. “That’s why I’m pleased the House passed this bipartisan bill 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. I urge President Biden to sign this important legislation into law quickly.”
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. A cyber-attack that hit the city of Tulsa last May exposed residents’ Social Security numbers. In recent years, the city of Florence, Alabama paid hackers to unlock city computer systems, and a ransomware attack cost the city of New Orleans millions of dollars. In 2019, the Board of Commissioners from Genesee County in Michigan reported similar attacks on their network, after hackers locked their system and demanded payment for its release.
The State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act would facilitate coordination between DHS and state and local governments in several key areas. The legislation would require the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency 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.