Senate Bill Boosts Guard’s Cyber Defense Role

NGAUS Washington Report
May 29, 2018

The National Guard in every state and territory would create Cyber Civil Support Teams to help prevent cyber incidents and respond to them when they occur. The teams would “bridge the gap” between federal and nonfederal cybersecurity efforts, according to the sponsors.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced the Major General Tim Lowenberg National Guard Cyber Defenders Act last week, named for the Washington state adjutant general from 1999 to 2012. He was a leading voice in homeland security. It would provide $50 million to fund the Guard teams.

The legislation is similar to a bill introduced in the House in September 2017 by Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Miss.

The National Guard cyber teams would help the private sector respond to cyber-attacks, as well as coordinate federal, state and local resources following an attack. They would also work with operators of critical infrastructure, such as dams, electrical grids, hospitals and schools, to develop plans to prevent attacks and respond if they occur.

NGAUS supports the legislation and considers the Guard an obvious partner in the cybersecurity of the nation.

In a statement, Cantwell said, “Establishing National Guard cyber teams in each state will make sure the resources and expertise are in place to respond to the growing threats.”

She said the 252nd Cyberspace Operations Group in the Washington Guard is a “proven model” for the new teams.

Manchin said in a statement that cyber-attacks are on the increase, adding, “[W]e must be able to protect our critical infrastructure, which most of the time is protected by local governments that are underfunded and ill-equipped to defend against sophisticated foreign adversaries.”