Kenyatta, Lewis’ bill to establish cybersecurity oversight board unanimously passes House committee

HARRISBURG, Dec. 17 –State Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Phila., and Andrew Lewis, R- Dauphin, today announced that legislation they authored to install a first-of-its kind cybersecurity oversight board in Pennsylvania was unanimously approved by the House Commerce Committee.

Kenyatta, who is currently serving in his first term, said the bill, H.B. 2009, would establish a Cybersecurity Coordination Board to protect data by conducting cybersecurity audits and improving security and privacy standards. The board would also collaborate with businesses and academic institutions to assist in providing effective cybersecurity safety awareness and education.

“As elected officials, it is our duty to ensure the safety and well-being of all Pennsylvanians and it’s imperative that cybersecurity be included among the institutions we should be safeguarding because too many Pennsylvanians have been drastically impacted by cyber-attacks,” Kenyatta said. “I am proud of the bipartisan support our legislation has received and thankful that protecting Pennsylvanians from cyber threats is something that we can all stand behind.”

“Cyber criminals are relentless in their passion for disrupting the flow of information whenever they see an opening, especially when it comes to prominent parties such as government entities,” Lewis said. “We must be equally as passionate in our efforts to fend off these attempts to create chaos and halt the natural flow of progress. House Bill 2009 addresses a problem we cannot ignore by fortifying our defenses against cyber-attacks, and I’m very pleased that we were able to craft a bipartisan solution to proactively address this issue with an unpaid advisory board, without adding another layer of expensive government bureaucracy.” 

In 2017, global cybersecurity spending exceeded $86 billion and is forecasted to rise to $170 billion by 2022, Kenyatta said. He attributed the exorbitant costs to entities matching the increasingly evolving cyber-attacks and attempts.

“Entities across the globe are shelling out billions collectively to mitigate breaches or to repel anticipated attacks, but these protections are very costly and can potentially financially bankrupt government and private-sector agencies,” Kenyatta said. “Fortunately, in our commonwealth, agencies under the executive branch have been incredibly successful in ensuring the protection of some of our state’s most critical data -- thanks to a robust IT staff and structure.”

Kenyatta pointed to an October 2019 report from the state Office of Administration that recorded 21.7 billion attempts to attack the office’s firewall. On one day, the OA staved off 703 million attempted hacks, 4.9 billion per week and 21.1 billion a month, amounting to a culmination of 253 billion a year.

“Each of these attempts were successfully thwarted because of meticulous oversight, ranging from routine software upgrades and closely monitoring the latest hacking techniques,” Kenyatta said. “An archetype for the Cybersecurity Coordination Board our bill would create already exists, but it currently only benefits one agency. Drawing from the OA, the proposed board would provide the same protections to the systems and data of all agencies in the commonwealth and to all Pennsylvanians.”

House Bill 2009 now moves to the House floor for a vote.