NextGov: DHS and Pentagon Memo Details Future Cyber Cooperation

NextGov: DHS and Pentagon Memo Details Future Cyber Cooperation

By Joseph Marks

The Pentagon and Homeland Security Department have established a memorandum of understanding that details how the departments will work together on cybersecurity in the future, a Homeland Security official confirmed Wednesday.

That agreement “reflects the commitment of both departments in collaborating to improve the protection and defense of the U.S. homeland from strategic cyber threats,” according to written testimony from Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Jeanette Manfra.

It also “clarifies roles and responsibilities between DOD and DHS to enhance U.S. government readiness to respond to cyber threats and establish coordinated lines of efforts to secure, protect, and defend the homeland,” according to the statement delivered to a joint hearing of the cyber panels of the House Homeland Security and Armed Services committees.

A Homeland Security official confirmed the agreement is completed but did not provide additional details.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., described the agreement in broad terms during the hearing. Richmond, who is the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security panel, said he has not read the memorandum yet.

The civilian-military agreement comes as the government is trying to ramp up civilian and military cooperation in cyberspace, especially when it comes to protecting election systems and other critical infrastructure such as banks, hospitals and airports.

In advance of last week’s midterm elections, 11 Pentagon cyber officials came over to Homeland Security’s cyber operations center as liaisons, Manfra told lawmakers during the hearing.

Those liaison officers were there to pave the way for their colleagues in case an election cyber threat popped up that state and local officials couldn’t handle on their own with Homeland Security’s support and the military needed to help out, Manfra said.

Though the departments were prepared, that threat didn’t materialize.

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., the ranking member on the Armed Services panel, praised the Pentagon and Homeland Security for removing legal and bureaucratic barriers to cooperation in advance of the election.

In the future, it will be critical for the two departments to work together on cyber threats, he said.

“While Congress has been abundantly clear about DHS’ primacy in defending civilian networks in the United States, coordination, collaboration and information sharing with the DOD will be critical to the defense of the homeland,” [Rep. Langevin] said.
Congress officially authorized the Defense Department to send those detailees to Homeland Security in August in a pilot program included in the most recent version of the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual defense policy bill.

The mammoth policy bill also mandated other Defense Department efforts to help the civilian government and critical infrastructure providers, such as banks and hospitals, repel cyberattacks if called upon.

The bill also mandated a study on whether to create cyber components in the military reserves that could assist states during a cyber emergency.

Overall, in the months leading up to the election, Homeland Security, the Pentagon and FBI made more progress on sharing cyber threat information and developing a common cyber operations picture than in the prior decade, Manfra told lawmakers.

ProJo: Rep. Langevin, seeking to restrain Trump, faces Caiozzo, GOP moderate and veteran

ProJo: Rep. Langevin, seeking to restrain Trump, faces Caiozzo, GOP moderate and veteran

By Mark Reynolds

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –

A 57-year-old West Greenwich man who served in the Army before he ran a plumbing business is the Republican candidate who hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin next month.

To continue his run in Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, which started in 2000, Langevin must vanquish Salvatore G. Caiozzo on Nov. 6.

Langevin has done this before. But the political landscape has changed since the 54-year-old Democrat beat Caiozzo in 2016.

This is not to say that Caiozzo, who ran as an independent that year, now represents himself as Rhode Island’s version of President Donald Trump.

“I am Sal,” Caiozzo says in the early moments of his interview. “Sal is a guy who has been out here with everybody else and knows exactly what everyone is going through. I have my own platform.”

“Yes, I am a Republican, because I stand by certain Republican values, but it doesn’t mean I stand by all of them,” adds Caiozzo, who describes his politics as moderate and not unlike those of a John F. Kennedy Democrat.

That said, here are a few things that Caiozzo and Trump agree on:

Like Trump, Caiozzo supports members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization spending more money on their own defense.

“I think we’ve been used long enough by NATO,” says the candidate, who won endorsement from the Republican Liberty Caucus, an association of the GOP’s libertarian-leaning activists.

But if the U.S. spends less money on its NATO commitments, Caiozzo says, the savings should benefit veterans.

Caiozzo, who says he was disabled by exposure to chemicals on an Alabama Army base in the 1980s, talks quite a bit about supporting veterans.

Like Trump, Caiozzo wants to change the nation’s health-care policy. But he says he would not abandon parts of the Affordable Care Act that provide coverage for preexisting conditions.

Schools and education decentralization are central to the Taunton, Massachusetts, native’s platform. He says he wants to improve education across the country and he believes education should be governed at the state and local levels, not by the federal government.

Neither Caiozzo nor Langevin brought up the probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.

When prompted, Caiozzo says, “I haven’t really seen the Mueller investigation come up with anything.” He adds that he regards the probe as a “waste of money.”

Langevin said if he and other Democrats can control the House after the election, they can provide stronger checks and balances on Trump generally.

He is hopeful, he says, that even with the current Republican majority in the House, Congress will keep Trump from shutting down the investigation.

“I’m determined to let the truth come out and let the facts lead where they will,” Langevin says.

But taking control of the House would “certainly allow us to advocate for and put forth policies that are important to building a strong middle class in this country,” he says.

“We would end attempts to try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act,” he says. “And we would hopefully work on ways to strengthen and improve health care, quality health care, in the country, and also work on growing good-paying jobs to further grow a strong middle class.”

The experienced politician has lots to say about how he would proceed if given the chance.

Langevin’s focus is on the middle class, improving the health-care system, launching infrastructure projects, protecting the country from cyberattacks and reducing gun violence.

“The country is at its best when we have a very strong middle class,” says the Warwick resident, who also says political leaders must do what’s possible to help Rhode Islanders gain the skills they need to find good-paying jobs.

Langevin, the first quadriplegic elected to Congress, was paralyzed when he was accidentally shot as a 16-year-old. He says he’s captivated by research that shows that a large proportion of all guns tied to crimes are funneled through a very small proportion of companies that supply guns.

“There is something wrong with that,” he says.

 

Salvatore G. Caiozzo

Age: 57

Residence: West Greenwich

Occupation: Retired from plumbing business, disabled veteran

Affiliation: Republican Party

Education: Monsignor Coyle & Cassidy High School, attended Labore Junior College and the University of Palermo

Previous elected office: None

Family: Single with two grown sons and one daughter

 

JAMES R. LANGEVIN

Age: 54

Residence: Warwick

Occupation: U.S. representative

Affiliation: Democrat

Education: Rhode Island College, Harvard University

Previous elected office: Rhode Island secretary of state, 1995-2000; state representative, 1989-1994

Family: Single

Washington Post: The Cybersecurity 202: The U.S. needs a law that requires companies to disclose data breaches quickly, cybersecurity experts say

Washington Post: The Cybersecurity 202: The U.S. needs a law that requires companies to disclose data breaches quickly, cybersecurity experts say

By Derek Hawkins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A slight majority of digital security experts surveyed by The Cybersecurity 202 say the United States should follow in the European Union’s footsteps and pass a law that requires companies to disclose data breaches quickly.

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation requires companies with customers in the E.U. to notify regulators of a breach within 72 hours or face a severe penalty. Fifty-four percent of experts we surveyed supported a similar law in the U.S.  The Network is our panel of more than 100 cybersecurity leaders from government, academia and the private sector who vote in our ongoing, informal survey on cybersecurity issues. (You can see the full list of experts here. Some were granted anonymity in exchange for their participation.)

Some experts said they favored federal legislation because it would help replace the patchwork of state laws that govern data breach notification in the United States. “Today, companies in the United States are required to comply with 50 different state laws when they suffer a data breach affecting personally identifiable information they control,” said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who has introduced legislation to create a national breach notification standard. “This is bad for business and bad for consumers, who are treated differently depending on where they live.”

“Europe now plays by one set of rules, while the United States plays by over 40,” added Jeff Moss, who founded the Def Con and Black Hat hacking conferences. “This is a costly, confusing and at times contradictory mess that only a national breach notification law can resolve.”

The issue has been in the spotlight in recent weeks. In late September, Facebook reported that hackers stole information that could have allowed them to take over of tens of millions of accounts. After learning of the breach, Facebook disclosed it within 72 hours even though the company did not have all the information about the breach. Google took a different approach. The search giant learned that a software bug exposed data on half a million accounts on its social media service Google in March but did not disclose it until this month — and was criticized for not being transparent.

Survey respondents disagreed on how much time companies should be given to disclose their breaches. Langevin’s bill, for instance, would offer companies more leeway than GDPR. Instead of three days, they’d have 10 days to notify regulators after discovering a breach, and 30 days to notify consumers. “These timelines allow flexibility for companies to determine the scope of a breach while ensuring prompt notification so people can protect themselves,” he said.

There are competing bills on Capitol Hill, though: Legislation introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) would mirror GDPR, requiring companies to disclose a breach within 72 hours of discovering it.

And other experts said 72 hours would be the right time frame. Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer at the cybersecurity firm CA Veracode, said that window would help the victims of a data breach take quick action to protect themselves from attackers who seek to misuse their information. “Attackers want to monetize the private data the companies store,” he said. “People have a right to know and protect themselves from subsequent attacks using this data, whether it is phishing or fraud. Having a standard like 72 hours will help all companies being on a level playing field and build processes to respond in a timely way.”

Harley Geiger, director of public policy at the cybersecurity firm Rapid7, agreed — provided that the countdown begins “when the company concludes a breach has occurred, not on discovery that an incident or attack occurred.”

“The company will need time to identify and investigate the incident, determine whether data was accessed or exfiltrated, and conclude based on the evidence that a breach has actually occurred,” Geiger said. “Reporting ‘a breach’ to regulators or the public prior to that process can be counterproductive for all sides, including consumers.”

The hack disclosed by Facebook late last month illustrates the complications of reporting a breach early. While Facebook took just three days to notify privacy regulators and the public that hackers may have compromised up to 50 million user accounts, the social media giant had only just begun to investigate the incident at the time of the announcement, and Facebook officials weren’t able to offer users a clear picture of the risks. In an update Friday, Facebook revealed that the hack affected about 20 million fewer users than it previously estimated — but that hackers had stolen more sensitive information than the company initially indicated, including search histories and location data.

Mark Weatherford, a former cybersecurity official in the Department of Homeland Security, supports a breach notification law but cautioned that figuring out the scope of an incident is complex and time-consuming work. “While there needs to be a trigger that starts the process, reporting too soon leads to mistakes, revisions and recriminations that might be avoided by waiting until enough information is gathered,” he said.

Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for Arizona State University’s Global Security Initiative, said a U.S. breach notification law should be coupled with measures that provide recourse to breach victims and impose consequences on companies. “Timely notification is important. But without some guidance on what regulators — and victims — should do, it feels somewhat toothless,” she said. “They should specifically address the needs of breach victims and establish some sense of corporate responsibility.”

Yet 46 percent of respondents said the United States shouldn’t impose a breach notification standard similar to the one in Europe.

“Unfortunately, GDPR does not take into account the reality of incident response and will lead to multinational companies disclosing breaches before they can provide accurate information or even be sure their attacker has been flushed from their network,” said Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former chief security officer who is now an adjunct professor at Stanford University. “Any U.S. law should balance promoting speedy disclosure with accurate disclosure.”

Jessy Irwin, head of security at Tendermint, agreed. “Being required to report a breach so early in the investigative process, when new facts emerge and information changes rapidly, will cause much more harm than it prevents on all fronts, especially if reporting has the potential to compromise an organization’s ability to effectively coordinate with law enforcement,” she said. “This kind of instant-gratification breach reporting legislation sets up smaller teams with fewer resources for major, major failure.”

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, some experts argued. “Timing isn’t always the most important part of transparency,” said Steve Weber, founder and director of the Center for Long Term Cybersecurity at the University of California at Berkeley. “And — as most people in the business know — 72 hours isn’t enough time to unravel what has really happened in even a moderately complex breach. The intention behind the law may be good, but this provision is just not sensible.”

Giving companies flexibility is reasonable, as long as they’re acting in the interest of the breach victims, said Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “While we have been concerned about companies sitting on this bad news, there are also legitimate reasons for delay, like when either the company or law enforcement is trying to identify and catch the perpetrators or when important facts about the situation (how many people are impacted) are still unclear,” she said. “Fiduciary responsibility framing can help give some clarity here; the company must act in the interest of those whose data is impacted, not its own here.”

There could be risks to consumers, too. Some experts worried that a 72-hour timeline could wind up overwhelming users with unnecessary notifications that their information was compromised just to meet the standard. “The deadline is going to produce a lot of half-baked breach reports and lead to ‘breach notice fatigue,’ ” said Stewart Baker, former general counsel of the National Security Agency.

ProJo Editorial: For U.S. House: Cicilline, Langevin

ProJo Editorial: For U.S. House: Cicilline, Langevin

SOURCE: Providence Journal Editorial

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island benefits from experienced, hardworking leadership in Washington. For that reason, we encourage our readers to vote to re-elect U.S. Representatives David Cicilline and James Langevin. As Democrats, they could become more powerful after January, if pollsters’ predictions hold true and control of the U.S. House flips to their party.

Representative Langevin, who serves Rhode Island’s Second District, sits on the House’s Homeland Security and Armed Services committees. Far from being content to serve as a partisan back-bencher, he has been a been a strong and assertive voice on defense and security matters. He supports internet privacy protections and wants to harden cyberprotections for the critical infrastructure of Rhode Island and the country.

He has correctly identified diagnosed weaknesses in America’s cyberdefenses, even as cyberspace is increasingly a battlefield for nation-states, terrorists and criminals. He has demonstrated a grasp of the havoc that could follow a widespread, malicious attack, and consistently advocated for greater cooperation among the interdependent public and private sectors.

Mr. Langevin also has advocated for broader and deeper health care services for all, especially the disabled. As a paraplegic, he provides a unique and personal perspective on issues ranging from stem-cell research to study of the most effective ways for people to undergo rehabilitation after becoming paralyzed.

He is popular, too, with Rhode Islanders, enjoying sizable electoral majorities after successful stints as a state representative and Secretary of State.

Representative Langevin is opposed by military veteran and Republican Sal Caiozzo, who is an advocate for veterans harmed by toxins while serving. Mr. Langevin’s experience and willingness to reach across the aisle suggest he is the better choice.

In the First Congressional District, which includes Providence and Newport, former Providence Mayor Cicilline enjoys a huge party registration advantage over Republican challenger Patrick Donovan and should coast to victory.

Mr. Cicilline has been an advocate for trying to limit the spread of guns in America. He has aggressively pushed for expanded background checks for gun purchasers and a ban on assault weapons.

In Washington, Mr. Cicilline’s articulate tongue has served him well. He has been willing to appear on conservative TV programs, making the case for his party’s values and helping to bridge the yawning partisan chasm in the nation’s capital. He has also spoken out for manufacturing in America. And he has been a champion of newspapers and a free press.

Mr. Cicilline could well be leadership material. A respected member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he is competing for the new elected position of assistant majority leader. Little Rhode Island can use all the power it can get in Washington.

We believe Rhode Island voters would be well-served by returning its incumbent U.S. House members to office.

CyberScoop: Leet List- Jim Langevin

CyberScoop: Leet List- Jim Langevin

SOURCE: CyberScoop 2018 Leet List

As a co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, Rep. Jim Langevin has helped shaped the policy debate on Capitol Hill on issues ranging from federal bug bounty programs to information sharing. The Rhode Island Democrat talks about what galvanized his interest in cybersecurity and his hopes for bipartisanship on the issue, among other topics.


CyberScoopWhat sparked your sustained focus on cybersecurity?

Rep. Jim Langevin:  A lot changed for me the day a couple of scientists from Idaho National Lab came and gave me a briefing on the Aurora threat [in 2007].

In the SCIF, we saw the video of the generator blowing itself up. They described to me how it could be done. It’s, at first, hard to get your arms around, but then as they further explained, this could affect not only just one generator but several, and not only just one power generation facility, [but] potentially it could shut down a whole sector of the country’s electric grid as a result of a SCADA attack. And that was very alarming.

CSThat was 2007. More than 10 years later, we hear the word “cyber” more on Capitol Hill, for better or for worse. How have your fellow lawmakers improved in paying attention to and talking about cybersecurity, and how do they still need to get better?

JL: Members of Congress have become more aware of the problem in the same way that the American people have become more aware of the problem, in many cases because of the high-profile cyber-intrusions or events that have occurred.

We’ve been at this for a long time. I’d love to say that it is because of the work that I did, or that we did together, to raise awareness. That was a part of it, of course, but unfortunately, most of it is because of the large number of cyber-intrusions and threats that the country has faced, the personal and private information that’s been stolen and compromised, the theft of intellectual property, and the list goes on and on.

CS: Do you find yourself being an educator with fellow lawmakers on cybersecurity? Do other members heed the advice of colleagues who have been paying attention to the subject longer?

JL: There are different times that a bill that I have sponsored or co-sponsored, and it’s come up for a vote, that I have members say they voted for the measure because they have a lot of respect for me on this topic and they know that I spend a lot of time on this issue.

Each member of Congress specializes in a different topic. We’re not all experts on every topic. Certain people are go-to people on any range of issues, and cyber happens to be something that I spend a lot of time on.

CS: Have we had a galvanizing moment that generates widespread momentum to drive better cybersecurity policy — the proverbial “Cyber 9/11,” to use a tortured metaphor? Was the 2016 election that moment?

JL: It was a moment, and certainly one of those things that has gotten people’s attention. But it wasn’t a Cyber 9/11, per se. I am still worried about that type of event occurring. It’s still possible, even though it may be remote at this point. It’s still a possibility. … It’s one of those things that keeps me up late at night — you wonder when or if that date will ever come. It’s probably more of a “when” not “if.”

I’ve often said that you will never have modern warfare again without some type of a cyber component to it.

The United States continues to get better at being better organized and defended against a Cyber 9/11. But you can never say never, that it won’t happen. But between the work that the Department of Homeland Security is doing, the work that U.S. Cyber Command is doing, [and] NSA, we have nation-state capabilities to defend the country. But there’s still more work to do. Remember, most of critical infrastructure is still in private hands and we haven’t completely figured that piece out yet as to how we [might] adequately defend the country if there were a Cyber 9/11.

CS: Cybersecurity has often been described as a bipartisan issue. But with all of the politicization of the aftermath of Russian hacking and information operations during the 2016 election, is cybersecurity still a bipartisan issue in 2018?  

JL: I believe it is. … Some make it a partisan issue, but I don’t see it that way. Case in point: I have a bipartisan election security bill, the Paper Act, with Congressman Mark Meadows [a Republican from North Carolina].

We both see this as an American issue — not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s an American issue – that we need to do a better job with, securing our elections infrastructure.

CSCongress has recently moved to set up bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure programs at multiple federal agencies. What have you learned from talking to experts on what works in setting up these types of programs at agencies?

JL: What I’ve learned over the years in working on the cybersecurity issue and [from] meeting with cybersecurity researchers is that they want to help … they want to help make the internet more secure and function the way it’s intended to.

Bug bounty programs are a great way to leverage that private sector talent, as we saw with the Pentagon’s bug bounty program. It was set up the right way. You get trusted researchers who want to do the right thing, provide them a vehicle where they can lend their talents, I think [it] is a good model. I’d like to see other government departments and agencies do a similar bug bounty program.

We also need to have a vulnerability disclosure program at each of the departments and agencies so that when cybersecurity researchers do find a vulnerability they’ve got somebody they can report it to – and they know that it’s going to be acted upon.

CyberScoop: GAO report shows how easy it is to hack DOD weapon systems

CyberScoop: GAO report shows how easy it is to hack DOD weapon systems

By Sean Lygaas

In cybersecurity probes of Department of Defense weapon systems in recent years, penetration testers were able to gain control of systems with relative ease and generally operate undetected, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

“We found that from 2012 to 2017, DOD testers routinely found mission-critical cyber vulnerabilities in nearly all weapon systems that were under development,” the report states.

In one test, a two-person team gained initial access to a system in an hour, then gained full control of the system in a day, the watchdog said. In another, the pen-testers seized control of the operators’ terminals, could see what the operators saw on their screens, and “could manipulate the system,” GAO found. Many of the testers said they could change or delete data. In one case they downloaded 100 gigabytes of it.

The scathing report chalks up the insecurities in the Pentagon’s weapon systems to defense officials’ “nascent understanding of how to develop more secure weapon systems” and the fact that those systems are more networked than ever. Until recently, according to GAO, the Pentagon did not prioritize weapon-system cybersecurity. Furthermore, DOD program officials the watchdog met with “believed their systems were secure and discounted some test results as unrealistic,” the report says.

“Due to this lack of focus on weapon systems cybersecurity, DOD likely has an entire generation of systems that were designed and built without adequately considering cybersecurity,” GAO researchers added.

DOD’s evaluators did not pull out top-drawer tools to breach the weapon systems, but instead used simple techniques that were sufficient in the face of a “poor password management and unencrypted communications,” according to GAO.

The report, which focuses mainly on under-development weapon systems, is the product of a 15-month audit that included interviews with officials from the National Security Agency, military testing organizations, and DOD acquisition offices, among other agencies. GAO said its researchers will give Congress a classified briefing on their findings.

Not all of GAO’s findings were negative. The Pentagon has recently moved to improve weapon-system cybersecurity through policy guidance and initiatives to better understand vulnerabilities, according to the watchdog. And one penetration test reviewed by GAO “found that the weapon system satisfactorily prevented unauthorized access by remote users,” albeit not from insiders.

But the report makes clear that DOD’s work to date is far from sufficient in tackling the problem.

“Several DOD officials explained that it will take some time, and possibly some missteps, for the department to learn what works and does not work with respect to weapon-systems cybersecurity,” the report says.

Due to testing limitations, “the vulnerabilities that DOD is aware of likely represent a fraction of total vulnerabilities” in systems, according to GAO.

Defense officials provided technical comments in response to a draft of the GAO report. CyberScoop has requested further comment from the Pentagon.

“The GAO report released today highlighted a shocking reality: just how far behind we actually are in adequately protecting our weapons systems and industrial suppliers from cyber threats,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he wasn’t surprised by GAO’s findings. “While DOD has made progress in lowering its cybersecurity risks, it has not moved fast enough,” Langevin said. That is why, he added, Congress has mandated that the Pentagon carry out cyber vulnerability assessments.

The Hill: Congress falls flat on election security as midterms near

The Hill: Congress falls flat on election security as midterms near

By Jacqueline Thomsen

Congress has failed to pass any legislation to secure U.S. voting systems in the two years since Russia interfered in the 2016 election, a troubling setback with the midterms less than six weeks away.

Lawmakers have repeatedly demanded agencies step up their efforts to prevent election meddling but in the end struggled to act themselves, raising questions about whether the U.S. has done enough to protect future elections.

A key GOP senator predicted to The Hill last week that a bipartisan election security bill, seen as Congress’s best chance of passing legislation on the issue, wouldn’t pass before the midterms. And on Friday, House lawmakers left town for the campaign trail, ending any chance of clearing the legislation ahead of November.

Lawmakers have openly expressed frustration they were not able to act before the 2018 elections.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), who introduced the House version of the election security bill, said it was “disappointing.”

“If you want to call it a message that we’re sending to the American people, that we’re doing everything that we can to ensure that the integrity of the vote is sacred,” he said, “If we have these opportunities to do something and we don’t, then that definitely sends the wrong message. That maybe we just don’t care or whatever.”

Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.), the co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said not passing the legislation was “a missed opportunity” to better protect U.S. elections.

“Every community needs to be on guard, alert and realize that the Russians are a very well-resourced and capable bad actor that are again trying to interfere with our elections,” he said.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the bill’s cosponsors, told The Hill that the text of the bill is still being worked out after recent changes prompted concerns from state election officials and the White House.

It had appeared the bill would make it across the finish line but last month Reuters reported that the White House had stepped in to hold up the bill. A GOP Senate aide told The Hill at the time that it was paused over a lack of Republican support and over concerns raised by outside groups.
The White House did not return multiple requests for comment, and a spokesperson for Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who delayed the bill’s markup, declined to comment further.

Lankford said the White House told him it had not held up the bill. But he added that “they didn’t talk to me about it in advance.”

Like other lawmakers and experts, Lankford pointed out that even if the bill had passed ahead of the midterms, it would still be too late to implement any of the measures ahead of November’s elections.

“The bigger issue is not the legislation,” Lankford said. “The bigger issue is what the administration has done in the meantime to try to actually get all this done.”

The Department of Homeland Security has offered some cybersecurity support to state election officials, and President Trump signed an executive order earlier this month authorizing sanctions against those found interfering in U.S. elections.

Lawmakers also included $380 million for states to update and secure their election systems in an appropriations bill passed in March. That funding was initially authorized under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, passed in response to the 2000 presidential election, but this year’s grants were the first authorized under the law since fiscal 2010.

However, when Democrats tried to pass more election security funding earlier this year, Republicans knocked down the measure, arguing that substantial funds had already been allocated.

Other security bills have also been introduced after the 2016 elections, but the bipartisan bill spearheaded by Lankford and Sen. Amy Klobuchar(D-Minn.) was touted as the best shot to legislation on the books shielding U.S. election systems from cyber attacks.

Even so, it remained the subject of extensive debate: The original bill included a pilot program for states to conduct audits on limiting risks, which would examine a number of ballots to ensure that systems weren’t compromised.

But that program became mandatory in a later version of the bill, costing it support from state officials and advocacy groups who argued the measure would be too great of a burden.

Voting groups have also voiced disappointment at the lack of action, but were quick to praise Klobuchar and Lankford’s bipartisan push to pass legislation.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D), the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), told The Hill that while many states are already implementing the measures that would be included in the bill, it was disappointing to not have them on the books. NASS has not taken a public stance on the legislation.

He said that the bill would “send a strong message” to bad cyber actors like Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election, as well as to Americans that their election systems are secure.

“I think this would go a long way to helping us let the public know that our systems are strong and, on top of that, that everyone takes [the issue] seriously,” Condos said.

It is unclear if Congress will be any closer to overcoming the hurdles to legislation after the midterms.

But advocates insist they will keep pushing for a solution.

“This is a time for unity where the country has to unite to fight off foreign meddling in our election because that undermines our democracy,” said Marian Schneider, the president of Verified Voting.
But she also noted that the Lankford-Klobuchar bill was originally introduced in December 2017 and that lawmakers had months to finalize the text.

“I think there’s an unfortunate thing going on here that whenever elections is the topic or is the subject area that it becomes politicized,” she said.

Inside Cybersecurity: Pelosi appoints Langevin to Cyberspace Solarium Commission, as House passes four cyber-related bills

Inside Cybersecurity: Pelosi appoints Langevin to Cyberspace Solarium Commission, as House passes four cyber-related bills

By Maggie Miller

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) to the newly created Cyberspace Solarium Commission on Tuesday, while the House passed four cyber-related bills including one to create a vulnerability disclosure program at the Department of Homeland Security.

Pelosi named Langevin and former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) to the commission, created under the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The House minority leader is required to appoint two members of the Commission, one of whom must not be a current member of the House.

“Cyberspace is the future, and will grow even more important to driving American leadership and innovation in the years to come,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Guided by Rep. Langevin and former Rep. Murphy, this Commission will be a vital tool in keeping America safe, strong and free.”

Langevin, the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said in a statement he was “honored” to be appointed, and called for the commission to develop a “strategic framework” for international cyber “stability.”

“It is imperative that we use the opportunity afforded by the Solarium Commission to develop a strategic framework that encompasses these challenges and ensures the United States continues to benefit from global cyber stability,” Langevin said. “It is my expectation that such a strategy will encompass all elements of national power – economic, diplomatic and military – and help contextualize cyber in the broader national and economic security discussion.”

The Speaker of the House is designated to appoint three members, with the Senate majority leader to designate three, and the Senate minority leader to pick two members. Other members of the commission automatically include the FBI director, the deputy secretaries of the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and the principal deputy director of National Intelligence.

The commission is charged with developing a “strategic approach” to defend the U.S. in cyberspace against “cyber attacks of significant consequences.”

Bills move in House

On Tuesday, the House approved four cybersecurity bills, including H.R. 6735, the Public-Private Cybersecurity Cooperation Act. The bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) directs the DHS secretary to establish a “vulnerability disclosure policy” for DHS internet sites within 90 days of the legislation being signed into law.

The House Homeland Security Committee approved the bill earlier this month, and Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) spoke on the floor in favor of passage, saying it would give a “legal avenue” to allow researchers from the private sector to identify cyber flaws in DHS’ systems.

“Between 2011 and 2013, Iranian hackers attacked dozens of American banks and even tried to shut down a dam in New York,” McCaul said. “In 2014, Chinese hackers stole over 22.5 million security clearances, including my own, from the Office of Personnel Management. In 2016, Russia meddled in our Presidential election, and because we use computer networks in our personal and professional lives, almost everyone is a target. With each passing day, cyber threats continue to grow. But the government cannot face these threats alone. We need help from the private sector.”

McCaul also spoke in favor of another bill passed Tuesday, H.R. 6620, the Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Drones and Emerging Threats Act, sponsored by Homeland Security cyber subcommittee ranking member Cedric Richmond (D-LA). This bill would require DHS to prepare a threat assessment related to unmanned aircraft systems, and was previously approved by the House Homeland Security Committee.

“The threats we face from drones are constantly evolving as the technology becomes more accessible across the globe,” McCaul said on H.R. 6620. “We need to do more to confront these dangers.”

The House passed two more bills: H.R. 5433, the Hack Your State Department Act, sponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), to establish a “bug bounty” program at the State Department; and H.R. 6229, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), which supports cyber programs at NIST.

MeriTalk: Langevin, Murphy Added to Cyberspace Solarium Commission

MeriTalk: Langevin, Murphy Added to Cyberspace Solarium Commission

By MeriTalk

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has appointed Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and former Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., to the recently created Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a 14-member public-private panel charged with developing consensus and actionable strategy to protect and defend the U.S. in cyberspace. Legislation creating the commission was approved as part of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Rep. Langevin is a co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee. Murphy was a congressman from 2007 to 2011, and is a former under Secretary of the Army.