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House Dems support COVID relief grants to bolster state and local cybersecurity

Four key Democrats are urging House leadership to support additional  cybersecurity funding for state and local governments in the next coronavirus relief package.

In an April 13 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee Chair Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) asked Congress carve out $400 million in cybersecurity grants to help state and local governments deal with escalating ransomware, phishing and other cyberattacks during the coronavirus pandemic.

"State and local government employees are working hard to ensure continuity of operations. However, working from home, they are more susceptible to phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks," the members wrote. "Many State and local employees are using personal, unvetted devices, so employers have no visibility on endpoints. These devices might be unpatched, rely on an unsupported operating system, or lack strong endpoint protection. Many may not be using a virtual private network (VPN). Additionally, the rapid development and scaling up of potentially vulnerable, unvetted applications to facilitate online services presents new risks."

The request for new funding comes as state and local governments were already dealing with an unprecedented spike in ransomware attacks. In February, the House Homeland Security Committee reported favorably on similar legislation sponsored by Richmond and 17 other House Democrats and Republicans.

"The American public is counting on State and local jurisdictions to implement and deliver COVID19 relief packages approved by Congress," the members wrote. "Any disruption in the delivery of services would only compound the strain on State and local governments struggling to effectively serve their citizens in the midst of a global pandemic. We cannot let that happen."

This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN. 

About the Author

Derek B. Johnson is a former senior staff writer at FCW.

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