Today, Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), William Enyart (D-IL) and Steven Palazzo (R-MS) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Cyber Warrior Act of 2013, that would ramp up the National Guard's cyber defense capabilities by establishing a Cyber and Computer Network Incident Response Team (CCNIRT) in every state and the District of Columbia, allowing the Guard to aid in responding to cyber attacks.
Rep. Israel said, "Cyber attacks have moved from science fiction to tangible threats to our infrastructure. The National Guard should provide assistance in the wake of a cyber attack just as they do when a hurricane or other natural disaster strikes. This legislation allows the states to harness the expertise of individuals already in the Guard to properly prepare for and respond to cyber threats and attacks."
Rep. Hanna said, "Cyber-attacks are among the most dangerous threats our nation faces today. Our 21st century security needs require a properly trained and enlisted force available to protect America's digital infrastructure. National Guard units are particularly well-suited to take on an active role for this new mission and support ongoing federal, state and local cyber efforts. I am pleased to help lead this initiative with a bipartisan group of colleagues, and I look forward to a Cyber and Computer Network Incident Response Team being stood up in New York State soon."
Rep. Allyson Schwartz said, "The threat of cyber attacks is one of the most significant challenges facing our nation's economy, security and way of life. The Cyber Warriors Act is a crucial step in providing the resources urgently needed to defend our computer networks while also helping to recruit and train the next generation of elite cybersecurity experts. The Cyber Warriors Act will provide a significant boost for the National Guard's cyber capabilities."
Rep. Enyart said, "The cyber threat to our nation poses a clear and present danger we must address with deliberate action and bring the necessary resources of our federal and state governments to the table to meet the new challenge. It is for this reason that I lend my support as a co-sponsor of the Cyber Warriors Act of 2013. As the immediate past TAG of the Illinois National Guard, I know guardsmen are willing and capable of handling a cyber-mission if given the right tools and training. I look forward to working with the bi-partisan group of legislators as we do those things necessary to defend our country from threats both foreign and domestic whether those weapons are guns and bullets or computers and hacking programs."
Rep. Palazzo said, "Time and again, our citizen soldiers have stepped to the plate and played a vital role in our nation's defense at home and abroad. As a member of the Mississippi National Guard, I can attest to the wealth of talent that can be tapped to provide much-needed cyber warfare support to the Pentagon and to the states. This bill gives the Guard the tools it needs to answer the call once more."
Last month, Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who leads U.S. Cyber Command, told Congress that cyber attacks from terrorists and criminals are growing. However, the institutions charged with responding and preparing for cyber attacks are short of the cyber experts they need. According to Alan Paller of the SANS Institute, the Pentagon alone is short by about 10,000 cyber experts with only 2,000 currently in place.
The Cyber Warrior Act of 2013 would create CCNIRTs in every state and the District of Columbia that would include both Active and Traditional Guard Members. This would allow the Guard to bolster existing capabilities and leverage the unique expertise of those Guardsmen who already hold IT and security positions in the private sector to boost our nation's cyber defenses. The bill would allow for a governor or Secretary of Defense to activate a CCNIRT in times of need, as well as allow Governors to ask their National Guard to help train state and local law enforcement and other cyber responders in cybersecurity and develop best practices. Finally, as part of the legislation, the Secretary of Defense would be required to report on how to attract and retain cyber warriors and the training requirements and physical demands in the field of cyber defense.
This is companion legislation to S. 658, which was introduced in the Senate with bi-partisan support last month.