Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities
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.
The legislation, which the Senate advanced on Tuesday, was passed unanimously by the House in September. It now heads to President Trump for a signature.
The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Cory Gardner (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.”
Reps. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Will Hurd (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 Portman (R-Ohio) and Maggie Hassan (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.”