House panel takes up slate of DHS cyber, tech bills

The House Homeland Security Committee is expected to advance a series of bills that will impact DHS operations and infrastructure.

US Congress House side Shutterstock photo ID: 156615524 By mdgn editorial use only

The House Homeland Security Committee is expected to advance a series of bills that will impact DHS operations and infrastructure on topics ranging from bug bounties to drones.

In a session slated for Sept. 13, lawmakers will amend and vote on legislation that would provide protections against unmanned aircraft, set up disclosure policies for websites, establish a departmentwide bug bounty program as well as provide secure radios for border agents.

The Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Drones and Emerging Threats Act introduced by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) would require DHS to assess the threat of drone aircraft to critical infrastructure. It would task the DHS CIO to help set up secure communications and data analysis systems that could take in data voluntarily submitted by infrastructure companies and use that data to assess the emerging unmanned aircraft systems threat.

Two of the bills under consideration by the committee are designed to help secure DHS websites.

One directs the agency to set up vulnerability disclosure policies for companies and individuals that find and report website vulnerabilities to the agency and establish protections for those reporting entities. It also would require DHS to explain the process companies and individuals can use to make those reports.

The Hack the Department of Homeland Security Act of 2017, passed by the Senate in April, would establish a bug bounty pilot program at the agency. Sponsored in the Senate by Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), the bill directs the DHS CIO to set up a bug bounty pilot program and a competitive contracting process to get a manager for it. The measure would also require the agency to designate secure operations that would be off-limits for the pilot.

The Secure Border Communications Act would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 with language guaranteeing Customs and Border Protection officers and agents get secure radios or other two-way, interoperable communications devices. Those devices, it said, could be new technology or established commercial broadband radio. The devices and supporting systems, it said, should allow CBP officers and agents to communicate between ports of entry and inspection stations. They should also be able to communicate with other federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.