Senators Schumer, Hassan, Peters Raise Concerns Over Funding Shortfall To State, Local Cybersecurity Support

November 19, 2019

Senators’ Letter Follows Outreach From New Hampshire’s Information Technology Commissioner About Department Of Homeland Security Proposed Budget

Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-MI) called on the Department of Homeland Security to resolve the shortfall in funding to the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) and the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC).

These programs, run by the New York-based Center for Internet Security, help ensure that the federal government communicates information on cyber threats and best cybersecurity practices to state and local entities, as well as provide assistance and threat monitoring to state and local governments facing cybersecurity challenges. 

“As you know, State, Local, Territorial and Tribal (SLTT) entities have been consistently targeted by malicious hackers. Recently, across the nation our cities and states have suffered from debilitating ransomware attacks that are carried out to extort public funds,” wrote the Senators. “Local governments – including small towns, counties, and school districts - simply do not have the budgets, the personnel, or the expertise necessary to deploy sophisticated tools in order to defend themselves against this evolving threat environment…. We hope that you will work with us to address this urgent concern and ensure that DHS provides MS-ISAC and EI-ISAC the resources necessary to continue their important mission.”

Across the nation, cities and states have suffered from a debilitating spike of ransomware attacks that are carried out to extort public funds in the past few months and years. Specifically, Schumer said that according to a recent report, state and local governments were the targets of 230 attacks from 2013 through the end of September 2019, with 81 occurring this year. Local governments—including small towns, counties and school districts—do not have the budgets, personnel, or the expertise necessary to deploy sophisticat6ed tools in order to defend themselves against the ever-evolving threat of cyber-attacks. Therefore, Sen. Schumer maintained, there is an urgent need for greater resources and expertise from the federal government to help these entities build their resilience and defenses, and specifically to ensure CIS has the resources it needs to help defend both SLTT entities and the nation.

Located in Rensselaer County, NY, CIS is on the frontlines of American Cybersecurity, and according to the organization, its software was responsible for initially detecting Russian interference in the lead up to the 2016 elections. CIS is home to the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), which plays a paramount role in the prevention of, protection from, response to, identification of, and recovery from cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure. The MS-ISAC is used by all 56 states and territories, allowing them to receive up-to-date information on and analysis of cyber-threats. Additionally, CIS houses the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing & Analysis Center (EI-ISAC). The EI-ISAC provides election systems professionals with a full cyber-defense suite of hardware, software and expertise to fend off the threat of foreign interference.

Read the letter from Senators Schumer, Hassan, and Peters here.

 

###