As Attacks Rise, Congress Sets Its Sights on Local Cybersecurity

Federal legislation that would help state and local governments beef up their cybersecurity measures is on the march in Washington, D.C. These legislative endeavors come at a time of increasing cyber attacks aimed at government systems.

Scoop News Group discusses one example, the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act.

 

The legislation, approved in June by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, would create a new grant program in the Department of Homeland Security to offer direct aid to state and local governments that cannot afford cybersecurity tools on their own. While cybersecurity consistently ranks as the top concern of state CIOs, states on average devote only 1 percent to 2 percent of their overall IT budgets toward it, and most states’ budgets do not contain specific line items for cybersecurity, according to NASCIO’s surveys. And local governments, which have borne the brunt of recent ransomware attacks, often have even fewer resources.

 

The bill does not specify how much funding would be allocated toward new grants. Congressional appropriators would have to allocate it under the annual spending bill for the DHS.

The legislation would also fund the placement of advanced network intrusion sensors — similar to those currently guarding federal information networks — throughout state and local government organizations; authorize the sharing of more classified information with CIOs and other top officials; and create more voluntary training programs for state and local IT workers. The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, which conducts much of the existing cybersecurity coordination between federal, state and local governments, would hire as many as 15 new full-time employees to carry out the new programs contained in the bill. The Congressional Budget Office estimated these components will cost $31 million over five years.

 

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