May 24, 2018

Manchin and Cantwell Introduce Legislation to Protect Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Attack

Bill will bolster National Guard Cyber Defender Units and create cyber civil support teams in every state and territory to protect critical infrastructure, government & businesses from cyber-attack

Washington, D.C. – As cyber-attacks across the United States continue to grow, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced legislation to bolster National Guard cybersecurity capabilities nationwide to better protect public and privately-operated infrastructure, including election systems, dams, and electric grid.

"As cyber-attacks on the United States increase, we must be able to protect our critical infrastructure, which most of the time is protected by local governments that are underfunded and ill-equipped to defend against sophisticated foreign adversaries. These National Guard cyber civil support teams will help local governments prevent and defend against cyber-attacks, terrorist events and emergencies that threaten critical national assets like our election systems, dams, electric grid, and schools. This is common sense legislation that should be passed immediately,” Senator Manchin said. 

“With cyber-attacks on the rise, we need to strengthen our defenses and protect critical infrastructure,” said Senator Cantwell. “Establishing National Guard cyber teams in each state will make sure the resources and expertise are in place to respond to the growing threats. Washington state’s National Guard Cyber team is a proven model and is leading the way in supporting local responses to cyber incidents.”

The legislation, the Major General Tim Lowenberg National Guard Cyber Defenders Act (Lowenberg Cyber Act), approves additional resources to improve our nation’s cybersecurity posture by establishing National Guard Cyber Civil Support Teams in every state and territory to bridge the gap between federal and non-federal cybersecurity efforts. Because critical infrastructure is primarily non-federal, states, tribes, and local governments are left to secure these assets themselves. Cyber Civil Support Teams would work to prevent and respond to cyber incidents under the direction of governors and the state adjutant general, building a trusted link between states, critical infrastructure providers, and the federal government. They would also provide ongoing defensive cyber training to owners and operators of critical infrastructure.

Specifically, the bill authorizes $50 million in funding for National Guard Cyber Teams. This funding would be used to establish these teams in every state and territory, as well as to provide training, upgrade hardware and software, and bolster network capabilities. The new National Guard Cyber Teams would:

  • Work with critical infrastructure operators and the private sector to establish and exchange best practices, develop integrated response plans, and conduct exercises
  • Help U.S. Cyber Command communicate classified threat information to states and the private sector
  • Help coordinate federal, state, and local resources during cyber-attacks
  • Respond, with the concurrence of governors and federal authorities, to cyber-attacks and help the private sector with response and recovery

The full text of the legislation can be found HERE.