Hassan, Cornyn try again with cyber Guard bill

cyber specialists (Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.) 

Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) reintroduced their bill to allow states to utilize the National Guard to improve their cybersecurity, citing the SolarWinds Orion and a noticeable uptick in cyberattacks connected to the ongoing pandemic.

"We have seen unprecedented cyberattacks throughout the country this past year -- most notably the SolarWinds attack, but also cyberattacks on schools, hospitals, and state and local governments amid the COVID-19 pandemic," said Hassan.

"The National Guard fights to protect Americans from cybersecurity threats every day, and it is essential that they have the authority to provide support to state agencies and local governments working to keep us safe online," Cornyn added.

The senators introduced a similar bill in October which stalled after being referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act included several provisions on cybersecurity developed by the congressional Cyberspace Solarium Commission, including a measure pushed by Hassan and Cornyn to establish a cybersecurity state coordinator position in each state.

The National Guard during the 2020 elections also took a more extensive roll assisting states with cybersecurity measures. In Washington state, FCW reported, Guard members help monitor local election systems and prepare organizations with better network hygiene.

"A lot of this work, and in fact, most of it is done over the shoulder of the secretary of state's team, their own IT staff, [to] teach them how to do these things as well," Air Force Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, the Washington National Guard's assistant adjutant general, told reporters in October. "But again, just another extra set of eyes."

About the Author

Justin Katz covers cybersecurity for FCW. Previously he covered the Navy and Marine Corps for Inside Defense, focusing on weapons, vehicle acquisition and congressional oversight of the Pentagon. Prior to reporting for Inside Defense, Katz covered community news in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas. Connect with him on Twitter at @JustinSKatz.


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