House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills

House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills
© Greg Nash

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday advanced a pair of bills addressing cyber vulnerabilities at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Only minor amendments were offered for both bills, which were passed during what is expected to be the committee’s final markup of the legislative session.

Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeTrump says he is considering four candidates for intelligence chief Trump expected to tap Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as acting intel chief Trump considering Utah GOP lawmaker for top intelligence post: report  MORE (R-Texas) introduced an amendment to make technical changes to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyBarr to attend Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday California delivers swift suit after Trump orders water diversion Twitter experimenting with new tool to label lies and misinformation MORE’s (R-Calif.) bill, which would create a cyber vulnerability policy at DHS.

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Ratcliffe said his amendment will ensure that the policy clearly lays out how DHS communicates with security researchers about how to mitigate or solve identified vulnerabilities.

Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.) praised McCarthy's bill, saying that it will open the door to creating a stronger relationship between the agency and well-intentioned hackers who can help identify vulnerabilities.

The committee also advanced a bill introduced by Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanDemocratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students State officials press Congress for more resources to fight cyberattacks Sanders says NH Democratic senators were wrong to back Trump's USMCA MORE (D-N.H.) to create a “bug bounty” program at DHS, known as the Hack the Department of Homeland Security Act.

Langevin also supported this legislation, saying he has seen a similar program succeed for the Department of Defense, but he issued a warning about the amount of work that would have to go into fixing identified bugs. He questioned whether the department has the resources to run a successful bounty program.

"A bug bounty will attract thousands and thousands of eyes and you have to be prepared for that," Langevin said. "All of which is to say, I still do have questions about the department’s ability to implement a successful bug bounty program."

He also introduced an amendment to the bill that clarifies that security researchers could offer their assistance to DHS for the program without receiving compensation.

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) ended the hearing by noting that while the House has passed more than 100 pieces of legislation that originated with the committee over the past session, the Senate has failed to address many of the bills.

He said he spoke with Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonWhistleblower retaliation: Stop confusing unlawful attacks with politics Congress looks to strengthen hand in State Department following impeachment Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, on Wednesday about prioritizing some of those pieces of legislation.

“I really wish the Senate would act,” McCaul said, adding that “99 percent” of the bills were “unanimous, bipartisan good governance bills.”