Lawmakers Propose a Rotational Program for Federal Cyber Workers

CISA Director Christopher Krebs and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speak with reporters in the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Aug. 22.

CISA Director Christopher Krebs and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speak with reporters in the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Aug. 22. Cliff Owen/AP

They also introduced bills to bolster counterterrorism efforts, stop robocallers and keep ZTE in check.

Some agencies have a far more robust cybersecurity workforce than others, and lawmakers want them to spread the wealth.

Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on Thursday reintroduced a bill that would create a program that allows government cyber specialists to gain professional experience at multiple agencies. Under the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act, feds with cyber experience would be able to do stints at agencies with less robust security infrastructures, which would bolster those organizations’ digital defenses.

By giving feds exposure to a diverse array of security challenges, lawmakers aim to make government cyber jobs more appealing.

The federal government faces mounting cybersecurity threats, from attacks on our critical infrastructure to security breaches that reveal millions of Americans’ personal information,” Peters said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation will help ensure that the federal government has the skilled workforce in place to combat emerging threats and help federal employees cultivate new skills and expertise in this in-demand field.”

Boarding Up DHS

Senate lawmakers on Thursday also took up legislation to unify the Homeland Security Department’s efforts to combat terrorism.

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., introduced a bill that would stand up a group to coordinate the agency’s response to threats and advise the secretary on terrorism alerts. The Counterterrorism Advisory Board would be responsible for bringing together intelligence and coordinating counterterrorism efforts across the sprawling agency.

“The Counterterrorism Advisory Board (CTAB) plays a critical role in the Department of Homeland Security’s work to prevent terrorist attacks by identifying and reducing security threats and vulnerabilities,” Rubio said in a statement. House lawmakers passed their own version of the bill last week.

The Latest IT Modernization Subcommittee, aka Hurd’s New Gig

The reorganization of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence spawned a new subcommittee for tech watchers: the Intelligence Modernization and Readiness Subcommittee. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, serve as chairman and ranking member, respectively.

The subcommittee oversees management issues for all 17 intelligence agencies, including personnel management, security clearance reform and IT modernization.

“I look forward to using my firsthand experience as a former undercover CIA officer, and the knowledge I have gained working with my colleagues on the Intelligence Committee and as chair of the IT Subcommittee, in this new role to make sure our intelligence agencies have the updated technologies and resources they need to meet the challenge of keeping Americans safe in the 21st century,” Hurd said in a statement.

No Carrot, All Stick

A bipartisan pair of senators resurrected legislation to ensure Chinese telecom giant ZTE keeps in line with federal regulations.

In July, the Commerce Department spared ZTE from punishment for sanctions violations that would have effectively put the company out of business. The ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight Act, reintroduced Wednesday by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., would reimpose those penalties if the department can’t confirm the company is complying with every aspect of the agreement.

“China’s communist government continues to threaten our national security interests through state-directed actors,” Rubio said in a statement. “While it was a mistake to strike a ‘deal’ with ZTE in the first place, this bill would ensure ZTE is held accountable if and when it cheats again.”

Robo-Blocked

The House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman wants to make it easier for consumers to block robocalls and up the penalties for callers who violate federal regulations.

The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, reintroduced Monday by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., would allow consumers to opt out of robocalls they previously consented to in the past and give the Federal Communications Commission more authority to pursue scammers for their misdeeds. It would also extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting robocallers from one year to four years.

“Americans are fed up with robocalls,” Pallone said in a statement. “It is incredibly annoying to repeatedly get unwanted calls from people you don’t know and don’t want to talk to.”

Last month, Senate lawmakers also introduced a similar bill that would give the FCC more leeway to prosecute robocallers.

Is This App-ropriate?

Lawmakers want the Homeland Security Department to look into whether foreign-made virtual private network apps could pose national security threats, specifically if they collect data on government employees.

“Because these foreign apps transmit users’ web-browsing data to servers located in or controlled by countries that have an interest in targeting U.S. government employees, their use raises the risk that user data will be surveilled by those foreign governments,” Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote in a letter to Chris Krebs, director of the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

If the agency determined such apps posed a threat to national security, they said, Homeland Security officials should order them banned from government-issued smartphones and devices.

To Throttle or Not to Throttle

A trio of tech-focused senators urged Federal Communications Commission chief Ajit Pai to investigate whether major U.S. mobile carriers were throttling internet traffic without consumers’ knowledge.

Last year, lawmakers asked Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T to defend themselves against allegations that they secretly prioritized connections to YouTube and Netflix, in violation of federal regulations. However, their responses “failed to answer many of [lawmakers] questions,” Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a letter on Wednesday.

“The lack of clear and complete information that the carriers provided in response to congressional inquiries should prompt the commission to investigate the carriers’ practices and determine if they violate existing transparency rules,” they said.

Coming Up

On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., the House Homeland Security Committee will explore how federal, state and local partnerships can help secure elections.

At 10 a.m., the House Financial Service Committee will examine the effectiveness of sanctions in addressing economic and national security threats.

At 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will host a closed briefing on U.S. cyber operations during the 2018 midterm elections.

At 10 a.m., the House Energy and Commerce Telecom subpanel will dissect the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.

Also at 10 a.m., the Senate Homeland Security Committee will mark up a trio of bills to strengthen federal cyber operations

Also at 10 a.m., the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation—the committee with jurisdiction over the Federal Trade Commission—will examine what Congress should do to address risks to consumers and implement data privacy protections.

At 10:30 a.m., the House Veterans Affairs Committee will look into the future and contemplate the Veterans Affairs Department in 2030.

At 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will review the budget of U.S. Cyber Command.

At 10 a.m, the House Judiciary Committee will also examine the Sprint/T-Mobile merger.

Also at 10 a.m., the House Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection subcommittee will learn about the benefits of diversity in the tech industry.

At the same time, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will take stock of the energy sector’s cyber efforts.

Heather Kuldell contributed to this report.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.