September 08, 2017

Representatives Kilmer & Palazzo Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Create National Guard Cyber Units to Help States Counter Cyber Attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Steven Palazzo (R-MS) introduced bipartisan legislation to create dedicated cyber units to help states counter attacks. Currently, there are units available when an incident requires a federal response. But many states do not have separate teams that can respond to cyber-attacks compromising their infrastructure.

The Maj. Gen. Tim Lowenberg National Guard Cyber Defenders Act would create Cyber Civil Support Teams (Cyber CST) through the National Guard to coordinate responses to significant cyber-attacks in their state. These teams would have to be up and running within five years of the law’s passage. The National Guard Bureau would submit a report to Congress outlining the plan to meet this deadline and work with the Council of Governors to establish when the teams would be used.  

 According to a 2015 Ponemon Institute study, 50 percent of state and local governments faced 6 to 25 cyber breaches in the past 24 months. In the past year hackers also breached more than 200,000 personal voter records in Illinois and Arizona. Most states currently use less than two percent of their IT budget on cybersecurity.

“States need reinforcements in the fight against cyber-attacks,” said Kilmer. “They currently face a gap when it comes to protecting their communities from hackers and other cyber criminals. Local national guard personnel have the right expertise to make sure states like Washington have the tools to fight back.” 

“Cyber-attacks are increasingly becoming one of the top security threats for our country, as well as across the globe,” said Palazzo. “Throughout the past several years the National Guard has begun taking to steps to provide the best and most efficient cyber security training and resources. Allowing the Guard’s Cyber Units to aid states in countering cyber-attacks is yet another milestone for the National Guard’s program and the overall growth of our country’s cyber security efforts.”

The legislation was named after Maj. Gen. Tim Lowenberg who recently passed away. Maj. Gen. Lowenberg served as Washington Adjutant General from 1999 to 2012. In that post, he commanded all Washington Army and Air National Guard Forces along with being the governor’s Homeland Security Advisor.