Four members of the House Democrat Caucus are pushing to include new cybersecurity funding for state and local governments in the next planned COVID-19 relief package. In a letter addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee Chair Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) lawmakers asked that $400 million be allocated to state and local governments in order to help them deal with ransomware, phishing, and other cyberattacks. As Federal Computer Week reported, attacks of this kind have been on the rise during this year’s global health crisis.
In the letter, the Democrats remark that state and local government employees are “more susceptible” to these attacks while working from home, as “Many employees are using personal, unvetted devices” that “rely on an unsupported operating system, or lack strong endpoint protection. Additionally, the rapid development and scaling up of potentially vulnerable, unvetted applications to facilitate online services presents new risks.” The concerns highlighted by the democratic lawmakers’ letter mirror the demands that major tech groups sent to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy last month. Both letters point to a clear lack of cyber-attack deterrence at the state and local level, which has only been catalyzed by this unprecedented work from home period. As CTT noted in our Special Report: IT Contracts with Banned Chinese Tech Manufacturers, malign technology is already rampant on state networks, and federal oversight is necessary to ensure this technology doesn’t compromise the security or integrity of state government data.
China Tech Threat commends the four members of congress for adding their voices to this issue from the left side of the aisle. It is clear that there is bipartisan consensus that greater vigilance is required, and party leaders should make cyber deterrence a priority in the next relief package and in legislation moving forward. Without bipartisan support, the persisting technology threat faced by the United States cannot be fully addressed, with leaders from both sides of the isle needed to draft and enact policies aimed at making US networks safer and more reliable.