Bill’s passage would enable Norwich University and other colleges to develop training for responding to cyber-risks
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., whose longtime advocacy helped Norwich University develop as a cybersecurity education leader, on March 8 said the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act, which he co-sponsored with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and introduced in 2021, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives after amendments.
The consortium consists of university-based training entities including Norwich University, the University of Texas, San Antonio; Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service; the University of Arkansas and the University of Memphis.
In a March 8 statement, Leahy’s office said the bill would authorize the U.S. Homeland Security Department to work with the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium to help prepare for and respond to cybersecurity risks national, state and local. Leahy and Cornyn introduced the bill in the Senate in March 2021.
“There are few threats greater than those carried out through cyberspace ... But with preparation, like that coached by (the consortium), those threats can be mitigated.” U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Previous versions of the bill introduced in 2019 and 2017 died in committee.
Because of amendments, the 2021 bill will return to the Senate for final passage. The statement didn’t specify the amendments.
“There are few threats greater than those carried out through cyberspace that can upend the lives of Americans anywhere, from anywhere in the world,” Leahy said in the statement. “But with preparation, like that coached by NCPC, those threats can be mitigated.”
Under the bill, the Homeland Security Department would be authorized to work with the consortium to:
- Train state and local first responders and officials, provide technical aid and develop curriculums.
- Lead cross-sector cybersecurity training and simulation exercises for state and local governments, private industry and critical infrastructure owners and operators.
- Help states and communities develop cybersecurity information-sharing programs.
- Help incorporate cybersecurity risk and incident prevention and response into existing state and local emergency plans and operations plans.
“In the face of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States must remain extra vigilant against potentially disastrous cyber threats from Russian hackers that would weaken our infrastructure and military readiness,” Cornyn said in the statement. “This crucial bill will ensure our critical infrastructure operators and local governments are prepared for dangerous Russian cyberattacks.”
Enabling a powerhouse
Leahy, who said in November that he won’t seek re-election and will retire from the Senate in 2023 after eight terms, helped Norwich University’s cybersecurity program develop into a national powerhouse. Norwich’s program has a No. 2 Ponemon Institute ranking, a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education designation by the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security Department and designation as a Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3).
A December 2001 meeting that included Leahy, now-Norwich President Emeritus Richard W. Schneider and trustees Carl Guerreri ’62 and retired Gens. Alfred M. Gray H’88 (U.S. Marine Corps) and Gordon R. Sullivan ’59 (U.S. Army) yielded an earmark in 2002’s Justice Reauthorization Act, which created the National Center for the Study of Counterterrorism and Cybercrime at Norwich.
By 2008, the center had evolved into NUARI, which was federally chartered under Leahy-sponsored legislation in 2002 and partly funded through the U.S. Homeland Security and Defense departments.
In March 2019, Leahy and Schneider announced the award of about $7.3 million in three contracts — a $499,000 U.S. Army Energy Resilience contract, a $905,000 Reserve Forces Scholarship Program and a third at $5.9 million. The latter pact, funded by Homeland Security Department of Science and Technology and supported by the U.S. Air Force, expanded development of a NUARI-developed cyberexercise simulation tool.
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