DHS’s ‘cyber incident response teams’ back on Congress’ radar

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Congress is again moving to solidify the “cyber incident response teams” at the Department of Homeland Security that work with the private sector in recovering from cyberattacks and other events that affect the nation’s digital infrastructure.

The teams were created by the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) as part of its mission to share information about threats and incidents, but a bipartisan group of House members wants to fully authorize them through legislation. Their proposal was approved Wednesday by the House Homeland Security Committee.

“These teams operate as cyber first responders, mitigating damage and ensuring organizations are restored,” said bill sponsor Michael McCaul of Texas, the panel’s ranking Republican.”I’m proud to introduce legislation that ensures DHS can foster collaboration between the private and public sectors. This will ensure our nation can continue to adapt to the constant changes in the cyber landscape.”

McCaul led a similar bill to House passage last year while Republicans controlled the chamber. The measure’s cosponsors include Jim Langevin, D-R.I., John Katko, R-N.Y., Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., and John Ratcliffe, R-Texas. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a companion bill by Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., in April.

The legislation comes as DHS is not only trying to expand its role in national cybersecurity, but also is working closely with federal agencies to fix their own vulnerabilities. Chris Krebs — the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which houses NCCIC — recently said that agencies have made significant strides in patching systems more quickly.

Wednesday’s markup included other legislation that would affect DHS’s IT mission, including a bill to establish a DHS acquisition review board “to provide accountability in its major acquisition programs and ensure that problems are identified and addressed early,” a Republican news release said.

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cyber incident response teams, Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Michael McCaul, NCCIC