Senate unanimously passes Portman bill bolstering cybersecurity

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved the bipartisan Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act of 2019, reconciling both chambers’ bills to improve cybersecurity in the nation’s public and private sectors.

“I am glad the Senate passed our bipartisan legislation and I hope we send it to the president’s desk soon so that we can strengthen our response efforts in the event of a cyberattack,” said U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who in January introduced S. 315 in his chamber.

With Senate approval on Sept. 24 of the same-named H.R. 1158, which on June 10 passed the U.S. House of Representatives, the measure now heads to the president for his signature to make it law.

The legislation requires that DHS make permanent “cyber hunt” and “cyber incident response” teams to help prevent cyberattacks across all levels of government and the private sector, and to mitigate the impact of any attacks when they occur, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Portman’s office.

Additionally, the bill authorizes DHS to include private-sector experts on the cyber teams and to permit local governments and other non-federal entities to request assistance from the teams in the event of an attack, the summary says.

“Our cyber response teams play an important role in protecting against cyber threats, reducing cybersecurity risks, and helping to get our cyber infrastructure backup and running after an attack occurs,” Sen. Portman said.