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Department of Homeland Security: Cybersecurity Advice On the Way?

Congressional lawmakers from both sides of the aisle introduced a bill late last week to establish a committee of cybersecurity professionals. The proposed committee's mandate: Advise the Department of Homeland Security on policies and programs.

The Cybersecurity Advisory Committee (CSAC) Authorization Act of 2019, introduced by Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), would make recommendations to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a unit of the DHS set up last year.

Cybersecurity experts from state and local governments and private sector industries such as energy, healthcare, manufacturing and transportation would make up the 35-member committee. Members would serve for two years. While the bill's supporters didn't directly offer that managed security service providers (MSSPs) will sit on the committee, it's reasonable to assume they will be part of it. Katko said CSAC would be a resource for CISA and DHS to help equip the agencies with the necessary tools to combat cyber threats.

Cybersecurity: Public and Private Sector Coordination

The bill is intended to improve the country’s response to cyber threats and coordinate security efforts between public and private sector organizations.

John Katko
Rep. John Katko (R-NY) John Katko

“By creating a Cybersecurity Advisory Committee, we can facilitate a vital dialogue between public and private partners and better secure the U.S. I’m grateful for the support of our private partners for this initiative,” Katko said. The bill has been endorsed by the National Technology Security Coalition.

Fitzpatrick called the legislation an “important first step” to provide critical information and resources to DHS to address cybersecurity challenges faced by government and industry. “It is the responsibility of DHS to work with public and private sector stakeholders to secure networks to protect critical U.S. infrastructure – 85 percent of which is owned and operated outside of the government,” he said.

In a recent remarks at a cybersecurity summit, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the ability to anticipate future attacks is what the country needs to strength its defenses. “Our enemies and adversaries have evolved,” Nielsen said. “And the arms of government are swinging too slowly to protect the American people. Let me be clear: we are more secure than ever against the dangers of the last decade. But we are less prepared than ever for those that will find us in the next,” she said.

President Trump's Cybersecurity Budget

President Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal calls for nearly $11 billion to be set aside for cybersecurity, most of which would go to the Department of Defense (DoD) and Homeland Security’s initiatives and operations. Under the Administration’s budget proposal some $9.6 billion for cybersecurity would be allocated to the DoD.

Congress recently passed and Trump signed into law the bipartisan Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act, which spins off the cybersecurity subdivision into a fully operational agency. It also establishes DHS as the go-to agency for all things cybersecurity.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.