Biden and Congress Move to Fortify National, State Cybersecurity

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Through the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate in August, 2021, Congress is working to funnel $1 billion in resources to beef up state and local government cyber infrastructure and shore up government cybersecurity after a year in which hackers took full advantage of targeting systems, reports The Hill.

The funds allocated in the Senate bipartisan bill are part of the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which would create a grant program at the Department of Homeland Security to provide the funding to government entities over four years, with a quarter of the funds going to more vulnerable rural communities.

The Senate measure is similar to a bill in the House spearheaded by Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity panel, which would also provide millions in cybersecurity funding for state and local governments. The bill was passed by the House in July, and Clarke vowed last week to continue pushing for progress on the legislation and other cybersecurity-related bills.

Meanwhile, Pew Stateline reports that President Biden has signed a bill into law aimed at helping improve cybersecurity at K-12 schools and making them less vulnerable to ransomware attacks. The measure directs the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to study the cyber risks facing elementary and secondary schools and develop recommendations to assist schools in facing those risks.

The study will evaluate the challenges schools face in securing their systems and sensitive student and employee records. The agency has 120 days to complete the review and report back to Congress.

The law, which passed the U.S. House and Senate unanimously, also requires the federal agency to develop online training tools for school officials. Since 2016, there have been more than 1,200 cyber incidents affecting K-12 public schools in all 50 states, according to Doug Levin, national director of the K12 Security Information Exchange, a nonprofit organization that tracks the information.

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