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Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities

Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities
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The Senate this week unanimously passed bipartisan legislation designed to boost the cybersecurity of internet-connected devices.

The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act would require all internet-connected devices purchased by the federal government — such as computers and mobile devices — to comply with minimum security recommendations issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

The bill would require private sector groups providing devices to the federal government to notify agencies if the internet-connected device has a vulnerability that could leave the government open to attacks. 

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The legislation, which the Senate advanced on Tuesday, was passed unanimously by the House in September. It now heads to President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE for a signature.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Pelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats MORE (D-Va.) and Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.), the co-founders of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, who both celebrated the passage of the legislation. 

“While more and more products and even household appliances today have software functionality and internet connectivity, too few incorporate even basic safeguards and protections, posing a real risk to individual and national security,” Warner said in a statement. 

“I’m proud that Congress was able to come together today to pass this legislation, which will harness the purchasing power of the federal government and incentivize companies to finally secure the devices they create and sell,” he added. “I urge the President to sign this bill into law without delay.”

“Most experts expect tens of billions of devices operating on our networks within the next several years as the Internet of Things (IoT) landscape continues to expand,” Gardner noted in a separate statement. “We need to make sure these devices are secure from malicious cyber-attacks as they continue to transform our society and add countless new entry points into our networks.”

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Reps. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyPharmaceutical industry donated to two-thirds of Congress ahead of 2020 elections: analysis Republicans defy mask rules on House floor HHS expands Medicaid postpartum coverage for Illinois mothers up to a year after giving birth MORE (D-Ill.) and Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFirst Democrat jumps into key Texas House race to challenge Gonzales Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel MORE (R-Texas) served as the primary House sponsors. Both lawmakers have pushed hard for the bill’s passage over the past three years. The legislation failed to pass in the 115th Congress, and was reintroduced in both the House and Senate in 2019. 

Kelly tweeted Wednesday that passage of the bill was “great news,” noting that it only needed Trump’s signature to become law. 

The bill was not the only cybersecurity legislation approved by the Senate on Tuesday night.

The chamber also unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals What the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain MORE (R-Ohio) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanProgressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack MORE (D-N.H.) that seeks to modernize the federal government’s use and procurement of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence. 

This legislation was also previously approved by the House and now goes to Trump for signature. 

“As technology continues to change and advance, it’s important that the federal government understands the significant impacts it will have on our country, economy, and society,” Portman, the co-chair of the Senate AI Caucus, said in a statement. “Ensuring that our government has the capabilities and expertise to help navigate the impacts of the latest technology will be important in the coming years and decades.”