As Congress returns to Capitol Hill, it’s eyeing several pieces of legislation focused on cybersecurity.
On the agenda: voting on a new leader for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, (Jen Easterly’s been nominated but must be confirmed), along with two cybersecurity related bills: The Civilian Cyber Security Reserve Act (CCSRA), and the K-12 Cybersecurity Act.
CSSRA would establish a “Cyber reserve” program–akin to the sort of reserve program that armed forces have. According to Nextgov, the Cyber Reserve program would function like a National Guard-like program and would allow the Homeland Security and Defense departments to “address growing cybersecurity vulnerabilities and breaches faced by the U.S. government. The DOD and DHS secretaries would appoint members of the cyber reserve to six-month positions in the department as federal civil service employees. Joining the reserve corps would be voluntary and by invitation only and requires prior federal government or military service.”
Though the National Guard is already using its reserves corps to recruit civilians as cybersecurity defense contractors, CCSRA would allow the federal government to scale its cybersecurity defenses faster and to greater heights.
Meanwhile, according to Homeland Preparedness News, “The K-12 Cybersecurity Act would direct the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to work with educators, school administrators, and others to complete a cybersecurity risk assessment for K-12 educational institutions. Once completed, CISA would be directed to develop cybersecurity recommendations and an online toolkit for educators to secure the sensitive records stored on behalf of students and employees.”
It seems Congress is aligned with the Biden administration, which this year issued two executive orders aimed at shoring up cybersecurity and data privacy nationwide. And the overall conclusion is that the federal government is serious about pushing back on cyber warfare: Biden noted, per Politico, that he “made it very clear” to Putin during a phone call Friday about ransomware attacks that the United States expects the Russian leader to crack down on criminal gangs in his country, especially when those attacks target American organizations.”