PA Senate Passes Williams, Gaydos Bill to Enlist National Guard in Fight Against Cyber Criminals

capitol domeCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Legislation sponsored by Reps. Craig Williams (R-Chester/Delaware) and Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) to allow the state to use the Pennsylvania National Guard to combat cyber criminals has passed the Senate this week. The bill now moves to the governor for his signature.

Williams and Gaydos co-chair the House Cybersecurity Caucus.

“As cybercrime continues growing, it’s critical that we find a proactive way to fight these criminals,” Williams said.  “The legislation taps into a resource right here in the Commonwealth: the Pennsylvania National Guard.”

House Bill 2412 would give the Pennsylvania National Guard the authority to provide functional support for cybersecurity needs across the Commonwealth.  It 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.

“It is important that Gov. Wolf sign this bill right away,” Gaydos said. “We cannot delay.  Our energy needs and infrastructure are expanding, and government is housing more and more of your information, both personal and professional.  Fortunately, we have experts here in the Commonwealth who could help in a cyber emergency.”

In 2017, Democrats in the Pennsylvania Senate had their entire computer system hacked and held for ransom.  Earlier this year, Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry revealed that hackers were transferring Pennsylvanians’ unemployment compensation checks to fraudulent accounts.

The FBI reported almost 800,000 complaints in 2020 alone, and governments are a prime target, particularly of ransomware and ID theft.

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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.

The men and women of these units are dedicated to the dual mission of ensuring cyber preparedness and providing rapid cyber incident response.

“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,” Williams said.

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