House approves legislation to authorize Homeland Security cyber teams

House approves legislation to authorize Homeland Security cyber teams
© Getty

House lawmakers on Monday passed legislation that would codify into law the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber incident response teams that help protect federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. 

Lawmakers passed the bill, sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulGun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars MORE (R-Texas), in a voice vote Monday afternoon.

ADVERTISEMENT

The legislation would authorize the “cyber hunt and incident response teams” at Homeland Security to help owners and operators of critical infrastructure respond to cyberattacks as well as provide strategies for mitigating cybersecurity risks.

The bill would also allow Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE to add cybersecurity specialists from the private sector to the response teams.

It would require that Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center — the office in which the response teams are housed — continually evaluate the response teams and report to Congress on their efforts at the end of each fiscal year for four years after the bill becomes law.

The House Homeland Security Committee approved the bill earlier this month.

"My legislation before us today, codifies and enhances the cyber incident response teams at DHS," McCaul said in remarks on Monday.

"By fostering new collaboration between the government and private sector, we can harness our talent and maximize our efforts to stay one step ahead of our enemies," McCaul said. "This innovative approach serves as a force multiplier to enhance our cybersecurity workforce. Being able to utilize a greater number of experts will strengthen efforts to protect our cyber networks."

As part of its broad mission, Homeland Security is responsible for protecting civilian federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyber threats.