States in Line for DHS Cyber Help Under New Bill

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Help could be on the way for state and local governments grappling with defending against cyber attacks, in the form of bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate that would authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to operate a grant program for states looking to implement better cybersecurity and recovery measures.

The State Cyber Resiliency Act (S. 1065) was introduced on April 8 by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., with companion legislation introduced in the House by Reps. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Michael McCaul, R-Texas.

Text of the bills does not specify the total value of grants that DHS would distribute, although it does say that appropriations will be needed from FY2020 to FY2025.

The bills would create a review committee to determine how grant funding should be awarded, with the committee to include people recommended by the National Governors Association, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, the National Guard Bureau, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities.

“Nearly 70 percent of states have reported that they lack adequate funding to develop sufficient cybersecurity,” Sen. Warner said in a statement. “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.”

“America should dedicate far more attention and resources to combating cyber threats,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Cyber-attacks could threaten our election systems, municipally-owned water treatment facilities, local emergency responder networks, or other vital systems that impact our communities. With that in mind, building our cyber resiliency matters to employers, workers, local governments, consumers – and even to our national security.”

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