WASHINGTON, November 16, 2021 – Cybersecurity officials from the federal government told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Tuesday that Congress needs to press forward on legislation that would force companies to share information on cyber attacks with the federal government.
In July, Sens. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced the Cyber Incident Notification Act of 2021, which requires federal and private sector cybersecurity intrusions to be reported to the government within 24 hours.
On Tuesday, the oversight and reform committee, which is studying how the government can crack down on ransomware, heard from three cyber security witnesses that a priority of Congress should be to pass such legislation to force that information sharing so the government is better prepared to respond, and prevent, attacks.
“Passing cyber threat notification legislation is a top priority,” said Brandon Wales, executive director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “We need the information because that enables CISA and the FBI to both engage with that victim, offer our assistance, understand what’s happening on their networks, and protect other victims as well as all the threat response and going after the actor and following the money.”
The comments and the calls for legislation come against the backdrop of high-profile cyberattacks, including against oil transport company Colonial Pipeline and software company SolarWinds, which prompted a Senate hearing on the matter. Recently, investment app Robinhood suffered its own data breach.
The attacks also raise even more alarm as the pandemic has made remote work more commonplace.
Wales noted that there have been improvements in terms of public-private partnerships to better deal with cyberattacks, including the launch of the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative, which will lead development of cyber defense plans and executive plans in coordination with the federal, state, local and tribal governments, as well as the private sector.
Those companies Wales specified were those that have the most “visibility” on these attacks, including major cloud companies, internet service providers and cyber security firms.
“As we work together to spot threat activity, we are able to provide more protection than anyone can do individually,” Wales said.
Last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the department intends to create a new cyber bureau to help tackle the growing challenge of cyber warfare.
Other legislation before Congress
The signing into law Monday of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes cybersecurity grants to state and local governments, which Wales said he is hopeful will help
The House recently passed the Small Business Administration Cyber Awareness Act, which would require only small businesses of their cybersecurity capabilities and notify Congress about cyber breaches.
Before that, Senator Angus King, I-Maine, called for the crafting of legislation that would require all companies to report cyber breaches to the federal government, which backed by a Department of Justice official in further testimony before the Senate judiciary committee earlier this year.