WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), along with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA), introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to help state, local, and tribal governments more effectively counter cyber threats. The State Cyber Resiliency Act would set up a cybersecurity grant program that would provide resources for states to develop and implement effective cyber resiliency plans. This includes efforts to identify, detect, protect, respond, and recover from cyber threats.
“One of the fastest growing threats to our country is the danger posed by cyberattacks. From data breaches at retailers like Target and Home Depot to ransomware attacks on cities’ transportation networks, cyberattacks pose a significant threat,” said Sen. Warner. “Despite the velocity of the threat, 80% of states lack funding to develop sufficient cybersecurity. This bill would provide grants to state and local jurisdictions so they are better prepared to take on these emerging challenges in the cyber domain.”
“It’s critical that our state and local governments invest in cyber preparedness and training, and I’m proud to work with Senator Warner and Representatives Kilmer and Comstock to create a grant program to help our communities with this effort,” said Sen. Gardner. “Colorado is at the forefront of our nation’s cybersecurity efforts and home to the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs. As the threat of cyber warfare intensifies, it’s important that local governments are properly prepared to deter and protect themselves from cyber-attacks.”
“Cyber-attacks are a threat to our communities,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Too often we hear stories of personal records being compromised by hackers punching holes in our cyber defenses. It’s time we had better protection for consumers, workers, businesses, and governments. I’m proud to join with my colleagues to introduce a bipartisan plan that gives states more tools to fight back against these attacks and encourage the continued growth of a talented cyber workforce in our region and across the nation.”
“As Chairwoman of the Research and Technology Subcommittee, cybersecurity has been a focus of mine since the beginning of my Chairwomanship,” said Rep. Comstock. “I hear stories everyday where personal information of Americans is compromised and used by cyberterrorists. Cybersecurity has become even more critical to our nation as government agencies and private companies rely on technologies that are susceptible to hacking. The resources in the State Cyber Resiliency Act will give states the means necessary to protect their citizens from cyberattacks like those at OPM and IRS so that personal information remains private.”
The State Cyber Resiliency Act also encourages states to invest in the cybersecurity workforce. Last year there were more than 17,000 unfilled cyber jobs in Virginia.
According to a 2015 Ponemon Institute study, 50 percent of state and local governments faced 6 to 25 cyber breaches in the past 24 months. In the past year hackers also breached more than 200,000 personal voter records in Illinois and Arizona. Most states currently use less than two percent of their IT budget on cybersecurity.
Sen. Warner is the co-founder of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, and has been a leader in calling for better consumer protections from data theft. In the aftermath of the Target breach that exposed the debit and credit card information of 40 million customers, Sen. Warner in 2014 chaired the first congressional hearing on protecting consumer data from the threat posed by hackers targeting retailers’ online systems. Following the news of the first of many data breaches targeting Yahoo accounts, Sen. Warner called on the Security and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Yahoo fulfilled its obligations to investors by appropriately disclosing the breach that affected over 500 million accounts.