Senate, House Introduce Legislation to Create Cybersecurity Grants for States
Tuesday, April 09, 2019 | Comments

Legislation was introduced in both chambers of Congress that would create and authorize a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant program for states seeking to develop, revise or implement cyber resiliency measures.

U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Mark R. Warner reintroduced the bipartisan, bicameral “State Cyber Resiliency Act” to encourage state, local and tribal governments to strengthen their defenses against cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. Reps. Derek Kilmer and Michael McCaul also introduced the legislation, which would help states to identify, detect, protect, respond and recover from cyber threats, in the House.

“As cyberattacks increase in frequency and gravity, we must ensure that our nation — from our local governments on up — is adequately prepared to protect public safety and combat cyber threats,” said Warner. “Nearly 70 percent of states have reported that they lack adequate funding to develop sufficient cybersecurity. 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.”

A 2018 survey by Deloitte National Association found that most state cyber budgets are inadequate, with most states allocating between 0% and 3% of their overall IT budget for cybersecurity purposes. Additionally, the survey found that budget and staffing remain top barriers to an effective cyber strategy, with nearly half of all states lacking a cybersecurity budget line item, and 28 percent pointing to an inadequate availability of cybersecurity professionals as a “top barrier.”

In the past year, hackers have attacked a number of local governments in states such as Colorado, Georgia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. These serious cyberattacks have cost taxpayers millions of dollars and have wreaked havoc on essential local government processes.

The legislation addresses the nation’s cybersecurity workforce talent gap by ensuring that participating states enhance recruitment and retention efforts. There are more than 313,000 cybersecurity job openings nationwide, including 33,500 in Virginia; 24,800 in Texas; 10,200 in Colorado; and 6,300 in Washington, the lawmakers said.

Sen. Warner also urged the Trump Administration in February to ensure the protection of critical electricity infrastructure and consider a federal government ban on the use of Huawei inverters in the United States.

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