Cybersecurity would be top priority if House GOP wins midterm election, lawmaker says

AAfter the Nov. 8 midterm elections, Republicans may take control of both the House and the Senate. But with cybersecurity long being one of the most bipartisan issues in Congress, the impact of Republican majorities in one or both chambers can be minimal.

Still, there are concerns that Republicans are following the example of former President Donald Trump, who at times downplayed cyber threats from Russia and other countries.

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“American cybersecurity has receded under the Trump administration, with particular concerns about how Trump has failed to punish adversaries, including Russia, for belligerent cyberattacks on American targets,” said Peter Strahan, founder and CEO of Lantech, a managed company based in Ireland. security provider.

“Trump’s rhetoric has also largely downplayed the significance of these attacks,” Strahan told the Washington Examiner.

While some Republicans continue to say cybersecurity is a top priority, “there is a significant wing of the Republican Party that is actively downplaying the threat posed by cyberattacks from Russia and China,” Strahan said. “It is worrying at a time when the United States and its allies are engaged in what can only be described as a new cold war with Russia, and to some extent China, with cyberattacks being one of the main tools of asymmetric warfare in their arsenal”.

But cybersecurity would continue to be a top priority under Republican leadership, Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) countered.

“Cybersecurity is national security,” Garbarino told the Washington Examiner. “The current threat landscape requires a posture of vigilance, which is why we must secure our cyber borders just as we must secure our physical borders.”

The two parties in Congress have worked together to build the capacity of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, added Garbarino, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity subcommittee.

However, Republicans can focus more on oversight and “ensuring that CISA has the structure in place to carry out its responsibilities effectively and in the manner intended by Congress,” he said.

Additionally, Republicans will focus on developing the cybersecurity workforce and filling the roughly 700,000 open cybersecurity jobs in the United States, he added. They will also explore new layers of protection, such as federal cyberattack insurance coverage, inspired by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, he said.

Cybersecurity legislation is handled by a handful of congressional committees and subcommittees.

In the Senate, cybersecurity legislation often goes through the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee or the Cybersecurity Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) would likely take over as chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee if re-elected and Republicans win a majority. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) would likely become the cybersecurity subcommittee chair in a GOP majority.

In the House, cybersecurity bills often emanate from the Cybersecurity Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Garbarino would likely become the chairman of the cybersecurity subcommittee in a Republican-majority house. And Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) would likely become the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

During the 117th Congress, only a handful of cybersecurity bills became law.

One of the biggest is the State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act, sponsored by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). It encourages collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and state and local governments, as well as businesses and other organizations.

The law expands DHS’s responsibilities through grants and cooperative agreements, directing DHS to provide a broad range of assistance to organizations to defend against cyberattacks.

While progress is often made in cybersecurity through regulations such as HIPAA, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and national privacy laws, Congress does not appear to have want to pass major new cybersecurity legislation, said chief information security officer Chris Clymer. leader of Inversion6, a cybersecurity risk management provider.

As a result, there’s a patchwork of state laws in place, with monitoring and enforcing national privacy and cybersecurity laws becoming a “cottage industry,” Clymer told the Washington Examiner.

“Over the past decade, there has been talk of the federal government setting uniform standards for data privacy and cybersecurity,” he said. “Several laws have been proposed by individuals on both sides of the aisle. And none passed.

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While cybersecurity is a nonpartisan issue, Clymer doesn’t trust Congress will take a big step forward.

“Both sides made rumblings, and both agreed that this is not a cause that is really worth compromising with the other side to make real progress,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be much in the current climate in Washington that is likely to change this situation, whoever is responsible, short of a major nation-state cyberattack that cannot be ignored.”

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