Katko introduces legislation to improve state, local government cybersecurity

U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) introduced bipartisan legislation Monday that will authorize a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities on state and local government networks.

The State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, H.R. 5823, specifically establishes a $400 million DHS grant to incentivize states to bolster their own cybersecurity funding and requires DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to develop an improvement strategy for state, local, tribal and territorial governments. Rep. Katko introduced the bill with sponsor U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation.

“As we saw in Central New York with recent attacks on the City of Syracuse School District and the Onondaga County Public Library System, ransomware attacks on state and local governments continue to increase nationwide, leaving municipalities vulnerable and facing massive costs,” said Rep. Katko, ranking member of the subcommittee.

H.R. 5823 also establishes a State and Local Cybersecurity Resiliency Committee so state, local, tribal, and territorial governments can advise CISA on their cybersecurity needs, according to a factsheet about the bill. It also requires the governments to develop comprehensive cybersecurity plans to guide the use of grant funding.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), an original cosponsor of the bill, said that Texas was hit last summer with the one of the largest ransomware attacks, which impacted 22 state and local government entities that were not equipped to deal with the attack. When the next attack comes, he said, state and local governments should have the tools to protect themselves.