Senate bill wants DHS to help states fight hackers

Getty Images

A new bipartisan Senate bill aims to give state and local governments access to the federal resources to combat cyber crime.

Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) will introduce the State and Local Cyber Protection Act on Thursday as a companion to a House bill Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) introduced in November.

ADVERTISEMENT
The legislation, Peters said in a statement, "will help ensure all levels of government are equipped with the best practices and resources to counter cyber threats."

Specifically, the measure directs the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cyber hub — known as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) — to share digital security tips with state and local governments.

The NCCIC is the repository for all things cyber at the federal level. It collects information on hacking threats from across the government as well as from the private sector. The center also employs a cyber emergency response team that works to mitigate fallout from digital intrusions.

The Peters-Perdue bill would allow state and local governments to tap into these resources by requesting cybersecurity training and technical assistance.

“Anonymous attacks have already stolen Americans’ personal information and sensitive data from businesses and agencies,” Perdue said. “As our adversaries change their tactics, more coordination between state and federal governments is critical to combat potential vulnerabilities and future attacks.”

The State and Local Cyber Protection Act is the latest in a string of congressional attempts to bolster the DHS cybersecurity role.

During the 2014 lame-duck session, lawmakers approved a slate of bills that laid out the DHS’s cyber responsibilities and officially authorized the NCCIC.

And last December, President Obama signed into law a major cybersecurity bill that will make the NCCIC the main portal for businesses to share information on hacking threats with the government.