State Cybersecurity Top Concern for Lawmakers

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation has been introduced to encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assist states in focusing on cyber threats and vulnerabilities. U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) and House Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced the State Cyber Resiliency Act in their respective chambers.

The act establishes a grant program within the DHS for states seeking to develop, revise, or implement cyber resiliency measures.

 Senator Warner explained in a press release, “As cyberattacks increase in frequency and gravity, we must ensure that our nation—from our local governments on up—is adequately prepared to protect public safety and combat cyber threats. Nearly 70 percent of states have reported that they lack adequate funding to develop sufficient cybersecurity. This bill will aim to mitigate that need by providing grants to state and local jurisdictions so that they are better prepared to take on these emerging challenges.”

Senator Gardner affirmed, “Colorado is at the forefront of our nation’s cybersecurity efforts and home to the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs. As the threat of cyber warfare intensifies, it’s important that local governments are properly prepared to deter and protect themselves from cyber-attacks.”

Senator Warner’s office cited a 2018 survey by Deloitte-National Association which found most state cyber budgets to be inadequate. Most states were found to have allocated between zero and three percent of their overall IT budget to cybersecurity.

The study found that while strides have been made within the federal government in addressing cybersecurity, state governments consistently fall behind.

According to Warner’s release, the legislation also takes aim at mitigating the cybersecurity workforce talent gap by ensuring grant-receiving states enhance recruitment and retention efforts. Warner’s office notes that there are more than 313,000 cybersecurity job opening nationwide, including 33,500 in Virginia, 24,800 in Texas, 10,200 in Colorado, and 6,300 in Washington.

Senator Warner and Senator Gardner are co-founders of the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus and have introduced several measures relating to the issue this Congress.

Posted in From the Hill

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