House votes to boost government cyber protection, cyber research

In a 416-0 vote, members passed the Federal Information Security Amendments Act, H.R. 1163. That bill updates the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) to require the government to more actively assess federal safeguards against cyber attacks.

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"It is critical that the federal government address cybersecurity threats in a manner that keeps pace with our nation's growing dependence on technology," House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said during the debate. "But current federal law does not adequately address the nature of today's cybersecurity threats."

Issa explained that under current law, government agencies have developed a "check the box" mentality when it comes to cybersecurity. The bill addresses that problem by requiring agencies to continuously monitor cybersecurity threats, and to conduct regular threat assessments. Under current law, only periodic testing is required.

The House also approved the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, H.R. 756. That bill requires federal agencies to plan for cybersecurity R&D, boosts basic cyber research at the National Science Foundation, provides scholarships to help improve the federal workforce on cyber issues, and increases research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

That bill passed 402-16.

And finally, the House approved a third bill aimed at coordinating cyber R&D in the federal government. The Advancing America's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act, H.R. 967, directs agencies to periodically assess funding levels for various programs and shift those funds around when needed.

It was easily approved in a 406-11 vote.