The Senate on Tuesday approved bipartisan legislation meant to boost cybersecurity coordination between the Homeland Security Department and state and local governments.
The upper chamber okayed the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act by unanimous consent. The legislation would allow the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to provide state and local actors access to upgraded security tools and procedures. It also bolsters the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center to help prevent and respond to future digital incidents.
“Cybercriminals continue attacking state, local, tribal, and territorial government networks. The federal government needs to step in and take action to help these local communities – who often lack the resources to defend themselves – to quickly identify threats and seal up vulnerabilities in their information technology systems,” Senate Homeland Security Committee Chair Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said in a statement.
“As we’ve seen from the many recent cyberattacks, hackers with malicious intent can and do attack state and local cyber infrastructure consistently. Sometimes, state and local governments need some additional help or access to expertise to address these threats,” Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), the panel’s top Republican, said.
The bill’s passage occurred less than a week after a major county in New Mexico was struck by ransomware, making it the latest victim in an epidemic of cyberattacks that have seized city, state and local governments in recent years.
The bipartisan legislation now heads to the House for consideration.
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