HARRISBURG—Legislation sponsored by Reps. Craig Williams (R-Chester/Delaware) and Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) to allow the state to use the expertise of the Pennsylvania National Guard to respond to cyber crises and subvert cyber intrusion has passed the House unanimously.
Williams and Gaydos co-chair the House Cybersecurity Caucus.
“Cyber-attack is growing exponentially, both by cyber criminals and nation-state actors,” Williams said. “As a legislator, I am committed to finding as many proactive forces at our disposal to fight back. That’s why my bill brings experts in the Pennsylvania National Guard into the state team to respond to cyber crisis and combat these insidious crimes.”
The FBI reported almost 800,000 complaints in 2020 alone, and governments are a prime target, particularly of ransomware and ID theft.
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.
“This is all happening as our energy needs and infrastructure are expanding,” Gaydos said, “and government is housing more and more of your information, both personal and professional. This means keeping information secure and supporting more educational initiatives to help train people to work in the cybersecurity field is becoming more and more essential. Fortunately, we have experts here in the Commonwealth who could help in a cyber emergency.”
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 – both in crisis response and in proactive training – 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.”
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 bill now moves to the Senate for a vote.
Representative Craig Williams
160th Legislative District
Representative Valerie Gaydos
Pennsylvania House of Representatives