Congress

House passes three cyber bills

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The House of Representatives passed three bills on July 28 designed to protect U.S. critical infrastructure against hacking by boosting information sharing, advancing cyber technologies and improving the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity workforce.

One measure, by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), would codify and enhance DHS's National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center as the hub for information sharing on threats across infrastructure sectors, according to a committee summary. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee reported its own NCCIC bill in June.

"Last week, the former co-chair of the 9/11 Commission testified that we are in a pre-9/11 mindset when it comes to cybersecurity," McCaul said in a statement. He said his bill would create "a true partnership between DHS and the private sector to ensure the distribution of real-time cyber threat information in order to secure our nation in cyberspace without burdensome mandates or regulations."

Larry Zelvin, NCCIC's outgoing director, has called for legislation clarifying DHS's role in cybersecurity.

The House also passed a bill by Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) that would direct the DHS secretary to submit to Congress a plan for research and development of cybersecurity and physical security technologies. According to a Congressional Research Service summary, the legislation would also have the secretary report on DHS's use of public-private research consortiums to develop technologies for critical infrastructure protection.

The third bill, by New York Democrat Yvette Clarke, would require the DHS secretary to develop classifications for cyber expertise used in the department and make those classifications available to other federal agencies, according to a CRS summary. While the first two measures were approved by voice vote, this bill was put to a recorded vote. It passed, 395-8.

The Senate is considering a related bill that would authorize DHS to pay cyber experts more and retain them with bonuses, which the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved in May.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is a staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.

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