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Sunday, October 1st, 2023

Sens. Peters, Lankford introduce legislation to improve cybersecurity partnerships between U.S., international partners

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With the introduction of the DHS International Cyber Partner Act this week, U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and James Lankford (R-OK) sought to boost cybersecurity assistance partnerships between the United States and its partners and allies abroad.

“Cyber-attacks against networks around the world can affect the global economy and even cause disruptions here at home. That is why the United States must ensure our international partners have the ability to fight back and prevent breaches,” Peters, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “This bipartisan bill will enhance our cybersecurity cooperation with international allies and partners to mitigate cybersecurity threats.”

The bill would authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to quickly support foreign partners – like Ukraine, specifically – that face growing cybersecurity threats. In turn, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) would be able to work with international allies to improve domestic defenses and protect critical foreign contributors to the global economy, such as financial markets and oil pipelines.

“Cyber threats are global threats, and they require global collaboration with our allies to protect Americans against international cyber threats,” Lankford said. “The Department of Homeland Security should lead the way to protect our critical infrastructure systems from cyber-attacks in conjunction with our partners and allies.”

Existing rules can hold up assistance to foreign countries in need, but the DHS International Cyber Partner Act would authorize both DHS and CISA to provide personnel in foreign locations and offer expertise to foreign governments and international organizations on issues of both cybersecurity and other homeland security concerns. International partners could be looped into existing cybersecurity programs as well, allowing the U.S. to avoid issues like those encountered at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In that instance, the senators noted, it took weeks for DHS to provide requested cybersecurity support, due to delays caused by current authorities.