WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced a pair of bills to address vulnerabilities in America’s cybersecurity defenses. The Continuity of Economy Act of 2020 would direct the President to develop a plan to ensure essential functions of the economy are able to continue operating in the event of a cyber-attack. The National Guard Cyber Interoperability Act of 2020 would enable the National Guard to provide remote cybersecurity support and technical assistance to help states respond to cyber incidents.
“Cyber-attacks are one of the greatest threats to our national security and the United States is not sufficiently prepared to defend itself in cyberspace or recover from a significant cyber disruption,” said Senator Peters. “Our adversaries like China, Russia and Iran are constantly probing our critical infrastructure and government systems to identify weaknesses that could be exploited in the event of a conflict. These bills will help prepare our country to defend against and recover from serious attacks on our critical infrastructure – including our financial institutions, transportation infrastructure, and health care facilities – that could cause severe disruption to our daily lives.”
Peters’ Continuity of Economy Act of 2020 directs the White House, in coordination with relevant federal agencies and the private sector, to develop and implement a strategy for ensuring the continuous operation of critical functions of the economy in the event of a significant cyber disruption. The bill would determine which public and private sector entities are integral to the national economy, establish a framework for rapidly restarting and recovering core functions in a crisis, identify areas for independent investments in resilience, and expand public awareness efforts to prepare for the possibility of such an event.
The bill is based on a recent recommendation by the Cyber Solarium Commission, a bipartisan, bicameral panel of lawmakers and experts tasked with developing and articulating a comprehensive strategic approach to defending the United States in cyberspace. Last month, the Commission presented its findings to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Peters’ bill would build upon the Commission’s recommendation to incorporate continuity operations not only in the event of a cyber-attack, but other significant events that would impact the economy, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peters also introduced the National Guard Cyber Interoperability Act of 2020, which would allow the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force, jointly with the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), to develop pilot programs for the National Guard to provide remote cybersecurity support and technical assistance to states responding to cyber incidents. 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.