The Infrastructure Bill on Cybersecurity

January 31, 2022 by Loren LaChapelle

The Infrastructure Bill on Cybersecurity

Cyberattacks against state and local government agencies have never been higher. Costs of these attacks are at an all-time high, and agencies must be prepared to get attacked at any time. In late 2020 we saw the notable SolarWinds attack that continued to impact multiple federal agencies and companies throughout much of 2021. Over the last year, significant ransomware attacks targeting schools, cities, and municipalities critical infrastructure and valuable student and citizen data have occurred. The nation’s fuel supply was threatened when Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware attack, providing citizens with a look – and unsettling feelings at the gas pump – into what could possibly happen again in the future.

Cybercriminals have successfully taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by finding and exploiting network vulnerabilities, remote learning and working environments, and more. The cyberthreat landscape has gotten worse and – thankfully – the federal government recognizes that the cybersecurity crisis needs to be addressed, and fast, at that.

Cyber Response and Recovery Fund

In November 2021, the House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, part of which is aimed at improving resilience of federal and state critical infrastructure, including enhancing cybersecurity efforts. More specifically, $1 billion has been allotted for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments for improvement to cybersecurity endeavors and protection of critical infrastructure and establishes a separate Cyber Response and Recovery Fund under section 2234(a).

The $100 million Cyber Response and Recovery Fund is available to state, local, and Tribal public and private entities, and can be used to support entities that are impacted by a cybersecurity incident with the response to, remediation of, or recovery from the incident, including coordination of (section 2233(b)):

  • Technical and advisory assistance to protect assets, mitigate vulnerabilities, and reduce related impacts
  • Risk assessments to critical infrastructure impacted by the incident
  • Developing plans to mitigate the risk
  • Facilitating information sharing in conjunction with entities performing threat response activities
  • Obtaining guidance on how to best use Federal resources to fast-track recovery from the incident

The funds are also available to use for response and technical activities including:

  • Vulnerability assessments and mitigation
  • Technical incident mitigation
  • Malware analysis
  • Analytic support
  • Threat detection and hunting; and
  • Network protections

The funds may also be used on hardware or software to replace, update, improve, harden, or enhance the functionality of existing hardware, software, or systems. This can include technical contract personnel support, such as Tyler’s Cybersecurity’s suite of services.

In the event of a large, high-profile, multiple-entity attack, a declaration in the fund also enables the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to coordinate federal and non-federal response efforts and access the fund to help the impacted organizations respond and recover from the event.

State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program

In addition to the Cyber Response and Recovery Fund, as outlined in the Infrastructure Bill, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 has been amended by adding the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program, which will aide eligible organizations in addressing forthcoming cybersecurity risks and cyberthreats to the information systems they own. This grant program also allows state, local, and Tribal governments can develop, revise, or implement their cybersecurity plan. These funds, however, cannot be used to pay a ransom or for any purposes outside of addressing threats and mitigating risk.

Be Prepared for Cybercrime

As the world has migrated into an age where digital information is the backbone of our society, the necessity for implementing structured cybersecurity protocols, protection, and threat monitoring and detection solutions has never been greater. Cybercriminals are continually evolving in their approach and their craft, technologically and psychologically adapting to an environment primed to susceptibility. Undeniably, the cybercrime element is in an ever evolving, rapidly enhancing threat.

For more information about cybersecurity as it pertains to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, please refer to Title VI of the bill.

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