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All 50 States Gaining Cybersecurity Coordinators?

Each state will be assigned a cybersecurity coordinator to liaison with all levels of government to prepare, respond and remediate cyber attacks under a new federal bill introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators.

The Cybersecurity State Coordinator Act of 2020 would establish a standalone, federally funded program housed in the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). CISA will appoint each state’s coordinator. The proposed law’s lead sponsor is Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), joined by co-sponsors Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rob Portman (R-OH).

One catalyst for the bill comes from states lacking the resources, technical acumen, and “situational awareness” to secure their systems, or adequately respond to an attack, officials said. Beyond the states, cybersecurity coordinators will also work with schools, hospitals, and other organizations. “These coordinators would help states better understand relevant threats, access federal cybersecurity resources and respond to potential attacks,” said Peters.

State coordinators’ duties will combine elements of training, advisory work, and program development, including:

  • Improve coordination within federal entities and between federal and non-federal entities, including state and local governments and other organizations.
  • Support preparation, response, and remediation efforts relating to cybersecurity risks and incidents, including ransomware.
  • Facilitate the sharing of cyber threat information.
  • Raise awareness of financial, technical, and operational resources that the federal government offers to non-federal entities to help prevent cyber threats.

“Cyberattacks can be devastating for communities across our country, from ransomware attacks that can block access to school or medical records to cyberattacks that can shut down electrical grids or banking services,” said Hassan. “The bipartisan bill I introduced would take a big step forward in improving communication between the federal government, states, and localities, as well as strengthening cybersecurity preparedness in communities across the country.”

Last February, Hassan and Portman reintroduced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act and included in the fiscal 2020 appropriations bill. Hassan and Portman’s bipartisan Hack Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Act and Public-Private Cybersecurity Cooperation Act were included in a package of bills that were signed into law in 2018.

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.