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Ruppersberger Praises Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Help State, Local Governments Secure Their Networks

Sep 30, 2020
Press Release
Bill inspired by 2019 ransomware attack in Baltimore

(Washington, DC) – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed bipartisan legislation drafted by Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and a bipartisan group of lawmakers that authorizes a new federal grant program to help state and local governments protect their networks from cyber attacks. The bill was, in part, inspired by the 2019 ransomware attack on the City of Baltimore that is expected to cost more than $18 million.

State and local governments have become rich targets for cyber hackers for years – a 2018 attack temporarily disabled Baltimore’s 911 dispatch system – but the coronavirus pandemic has made it worse. Governments are relying on digital tools now more than ever as more employees telework and more services are offered online. Meanwhile, governments are seeing historic budget deficits after unforeseen pandemic expenses, which means less money to invest in patching up their networks.

Already, nearly half of all states do not have a dedicated cybersecurity line item in their budget. In fact, most state cybersecurity budgets are between 0 and 3 percent of their overall IT budget, according to the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.
 
“State and local governments have long been a top target for cyber-attacks – as we painfully learned in Baltimore last year,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the threat as hackers exploit overwhelmed governments that are increasingly dependent on digital tools. As a former County Executive, I am proud the House has passed this bipartisan and common-sense legislation that will give state and local governments the resources they need to invest in cybersecurity, protecting their citizens and tax dollars.”

 Specifically, H.R. 5823, the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act, establishes a $400 million Department of Homeland Security grant program that incentivizes States to increase their own cybersecurity funding. Click here to learn more.

Click here to see Congressman Ruppersberger’s floor speech in support of the bill.