Lawmakers Introduce Combined Bill for Strengthening Critical Infrastructure Security

U.S. senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) this week introduced a legislative package whose goal is to strengthen the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure and government networks.

The package, named Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act, combines three bills introduced in the fall of 2021: the Cyber Incident Reporting Act, the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2021, and the Federal Secure Cloud Improvement and Jobs Act.

If the bill becomes law, critical infrastructure owners and operators, as well as civilian federal agencies, will be required to inform the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of any significant cyberattack within 72 hours.

CISA would also have to be informed — by almost every organization — about any ransomware payment, within 24 hours. The cybersecurity agency would also be given additional authorities to lead incident response for federal civilian networks.

The bill also aims to update current laws to improve cybersecurity coordination between agencies, as well as to update the threshold for agencies to report cyber incidents to Congress.

In addition, the bill focuses on the adoption of cloud technologies by the government to improve operations and efficiency. The lawmakers want to authorize the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) for five years to help agencies achieve this goal.

In addition to various bills aimed at improving the United States’ cybersecurity posture, the White House has been taking steps to strengthen preparedness and resilience.

President Joe Biden last year signed an executive order that represents the foundation for several cybersecurity initiatives, including some that have recently come to fruition. These include a memorandum focused on boosting the cybersecurity of National Security Systems, a federal zero trust strategy, and the DHS’s Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB).

The launch of the CSRB was announced earlier this month after some lawmakers expressed concern that the board had still not been created eight months after the executive order was signed by President Biden.

Related: Experts Analyze Proposed Bill Allowing Private Entities to ‘Hack Back’

Related: Massachusetts Lawmakers Weighing Online Data Privacy Bill

Related: House Passes Several Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Bills

Related: House Passes Two Bills to Improve Small Business Cybersecurity

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

Previous Columns by Eduard Kovacs:

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