Senators Speak Out About ISAC Budget Pitfalls

Sens. Margaret Wood Hassan, D-N.H., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., signed a letter requesting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provide full funding to two key Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISAC).

In the Nov. 18 letter to Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Christopher Krebs, the senators said the Multi-State ISAC (MS-ISAC) and the Election Infrastructure ISAC (EI-ISAC) provide critical support to the CISA efforts to broadcast threat information and help organizations understand and manage risk profiles.

“With the recent surge of ransomware attacks and the 2020 elections fast approaching, we cannot afford to curtail support to [state, local, territorial and tribal (SLTT)] entities and election administrators when they need it the most,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The senators asserted that DHS’s proposed FY20 budget covered less than 70 percent of the $15 million required to maintain MS-ISAC and EI-ISAC at current levels.

“Local governments – including small towns, counties, and school districts – simply do not have the budgets, the personnel, or the expertise necessary to deploy sophisticated tools in order to defend themselves against this evolving threat environment,” they wrote.

CISA, according to the letter, relies on support from outside partners like ISACs to complete its risk mitigation mission. The senators said that ISACs and other partners build relationships on the ground to create a free flow of information between DHS and municipalities. They reported “overwhelming positive feedback from organizations that represent state and local entities about the services [the Center for Internet Security (CIS)] and these ISACs provide.”

“It is, therefore, surprising and concerning that CIS may not have enough funding to carry out its mission of improving the overall cybersecurity posture of the nation’s SLTT entities – the exact mission that CISA has asked it to take on,” the senators added.

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