The Senate on Tuesday approved bipartisan legislation that makes permanent cyber hunt and incident response teams within the Department of Homeland Security.
A similar version of the Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act (H.R. 1158) passed the House in June but some minor changes were adopted in the Senate version so the House must vote on it again before it goes to President Trump to sign into law. Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) co-sponsored the legislation in the Senate.
The teams are authorized to work to help prevent cyber attacks at all levels of government and in the private sector and, if attacks occur, help mitigate their impacts. Private sector participants are also authorized to be on the teams.
"Our cyber response teams play an important role in protecting against cyber threats, reducing cybersecurity risks, and helping to get our cyber infrastructure back up and running after an attack occurs," Portman said in a statement.
The bill also allows state and local governments to request help from the hunt and incident response teams if a cyber-attack occurs.
Separately, on Wednesday the House Homeland Security Committee unanimously approved a bill that establishes within the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) an advisory committee to formalize expert help from state, local and private sector representatives.
The bipartisan Cybersecurity Advisory Committee Authorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 1975), sponsored by Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), would have the advisory committee consult, report and make recommendations to CISA on policies, programs and planning. The panel would include industry representation from defense, financial services, transportation, energy, chemical industry, and others.
The House committee also unanimously approved a bill requiring DHS to assess terrorist threats to the nation's critical infrastructure from unmanned aircraft systems and other emerging technologies. The bipartisan Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Drones and Emerging Threats Act (H.R. 4432), sponsored by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), also directs DHS to establish a mechanism for owners and operators of critical infrastructure to report suspicious drone activity near and in their facilities.
The committee also approved an amendment offered by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) to the drone bill requiring DHS to develop a mitigation plan to protect critical infrastructure from UAS.