New bills aim to bolster DHS cybersecurity efforts


Two new bills would bolster the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity efforts by creating a more prominent position for the country’s cybersecurity chief and creating a federal grant program for universities to provide infosec training.

Introduced last week by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the bills would improve the Department of Homeland Security's ability to protect the nation's critical cyber infrastructure, the legislators said.

One bill would create the position of assistant secretary for cybersecurity, reporting directly to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Currently, the country's top cybersecurity post is the director of the National Cyber Security Division in DHS, Amit Yoran. The position has been criticized by some legislators and industry groups as buried too deep in the bureaucracy of DHS to effectively lead the country's cybersecurity efforts.

"Our legislation will strengthen the Department's cybersecurity efforts and make sure the appropriate person within DHS has the authority and direction to get the job done," Lofgren said in a prepared statement.

Under the proposal, the assistant secretary for cybersecurity would be responsible for establishing and managing a national cybersecurity response system to identify vulnerabilities that would impact critical infrastructure, developing an information-sharing process with the private sector, and promoting internet security awareness.

The other bill includes a provision for the cybersecurity assistant secretary to establish a program that would give $3.7 million in grants to colleges and universities that create or expand infosec professional development programs or associate degree programs in cybersecurity.

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