HARRISBURG, PA — Legislation recently introduced by Reps. Craig Williams (R-Chester/Delaware) and Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) to allow the state to utilize the Pennsylvania National Guard to combat cyber criminals has passed the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
“We have seen a huge increase in cyber security attacks in our country,” Williams said. “The FBI reported almost 800,000 complaints in 2020 alone, and governments are a prime target, particularly of ransomware and ID theft.”
“But finding experts to help recover from a cyberattack can be challenging as it is often hard to know where to start and who best can help.” Gaydos said. “But we have experts here in the Commonwealth who could help in a cyber emergency.”
Williams and Gaydos co-chair the House Cybersecurity Caucus.
Pennsylvania is home to two military cybersecurity teams: The Pennsylvania Army National Guard Defensive Cyber Operations and the Pennsylvania Air National Guard 112th Cyberspace Operations Squadron.
House Bill 2412 would give the Pennsylvania National Guard the authority to provide functional support for cybersecurity needs across the Commonwealth.
“The men and women of these units are dedicated to the dual mission of ensuring cyber preparedness and providing rapid cyber incident response,” Williams said. “Our bill would allow the Commonwealth to mobilize these experts through a special state duty status to protect our vital systems and secure personal information.”
“The cyber security needs in the Commonwealth are growing every day as government is housing more and more of your information, both personal and professional,” Gaydos said. “And our energy and infrastructure needs are expanding. Keeping information secure and working to support more educational initiatives to help train people to work in the cybersecurity field is paramount.”
House Bill 2412 would allow trained military cybersecurity experts to support requests from state agencies in need of immediate assistance or training. Further, the bill will allow the guard to receive requests and provide support to non-government entities with cybersecurity education and training exercise assistance as needed.
“The military has trained and equipped the guard to protect us from cybersecurity threats,” Williams said. “It is now time to utilize them to protect the state’s vulnerable cyber infrastructure.”
The bill now moves to the whole House for a vote.