To help universities protect COVID-19 research, Reps. Andy Barr, R-Ky., and Frank Lucas, R-Okla., introduced legislation to give those universities and research institutions tools to protect from cyberattacks by foreign cyber actors.
“Congress must act to safeguard critical scientific Coronavirus research being conducted at universities nationwide,” Rep. Barr said in a press release. “My bill would have the Director of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) put forth guidance to preserve COVID-19 research and greatly reduce the threat of cyberattacks. This includes providing best practices and guidelines that will protect our national security.”
Last month, cybersecurity agencies in the U.S., United Kingdom, and Canada issued a joint advisory that said a Russia-linked group was targeting COVID-19 research. The July joint advisory followed a May warning from the FBI and other U.S. entities that said China-linked entities were targeting research organizations.
NIST sets the cybersecurity standards and guidelines for Federal agencies and best practices for industry, but the bill directs NIST to produce specific guidance for universities and other institutions conducting research on COVID-19. The guidance would be based on NIST’s current cybersecurity framework.
“NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework is the gold standard for cyber protection, and tailoring these guidelines for academia and research institutions will keep our data safe from theft and manipulation by foreign actors,” Rep. Lucas said. “It’s a simple but strong way to protect American research and support the fight against COVID-19.”