Chairman Carper Highlights Cyber Security Awareness Month

During the month of October, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Cyber Security Alliance, and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center raise awareness about cyber security in an effort to educate Americans about how to protect themselves online. Through a series of events and initiatives across the country, National Cyber Security Awareness Month engages public and private sector partners to raise awareness and educate Americans about cyber security, and increase the resiliency of the Nation and its cyber infrastructure.

Chairman Carper: “In a world where we spend so much time plugged in and logged on, we need to remain vigilant about our vulnerabilities in cyber space. As Americans take greater advantage of innovations that encourage us to communicate and do business online, it is critical that we also take steps to protect our sensitive information and prevent data breaches. Cyber Security Awareness Month serves as an important reminder for Americans to learn about how to protect themselves in cyber space, and underscores the responsibility that every American has to educate and protect themselves through responsible cyber practices. But Congress has an important responsibility to address cyber security, too. Far too often, we hear about criminals and nation states launching cyber attacks that could undermine our national security and cause wide-scale economic damage or even physical harm. It is critically important that the federal government and its partners have the tools and resources to counter the 21st century threats we face today. I will continue to work with Dr. Coburn and my colleagues in the Senate on cyber security legislation to better secure our nation from evolving cyber threats.”

This September, the Senate unanimously passed the Border Agent Pay Reform Act of 2013, which contained language from the DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act, reported out of Committee last May. The bill would help DHS recruit and retain cyber professionals which are in high demand across the government and private sector. The legislation would help address critical challenges that the Department faces in hiring and retaining cybersecurity professionals by providing the Secretary of Homeland Security hiring and compensation authorities for cybersecurity experts like those of the Secretary of Defense.

The Committee has also approved key pieces of legislation that would modernize and address critical challenges to the nation’s cyber security capabilities. In June, the committee passed the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Act of 2014, which would codify the existing cyber security and communications operations center at DHS, known as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. The bill calls on the Center is to serve as a federal civilian information sharing interface for cybersecurity. The bill authorizes the Center’s current activities to share cyber security information and analysis with the private sector, provide incident response and technical assistance to companies and federal agencies, and recommend security measures to enhance cyber security.

The Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 would update the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 and address critical issues that have risen over the past 12 years. The bill would better delineate the roles and responsibilities of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and DHS, move agencies away from paperwork-heavy processes toward real-time and automated security, and put greater management and oversight attention on data breaches. Both pieces of legislation await a vote in the full Senate.