Bi-partisan legislation, calling for the strengthening of cybersecurity ties between Israel and the U.S., was introduced to the American Congress on Monday. The bill calls for the establishment of a grant program within the Homeland Security Department, that will be used for research and development of cybersecurity and cyber technology collaboration, with an annual budget of $6 million per year, for the first five years.
According to the bill, called the "US-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act", any entity—Israeli or U.S. government organizations, academic institutions, private companies of all sizes, nonprofits and more – is eligible to compete for part of the dedicated budget as long as it is engaged in a joint venture with a corresponding entity in the other country.
"As cybersecurity threats continue to grow in scale, frequency, and sophistication, it’s critical that we find innovative solutions to acquire new technologies," said Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who introduced the legislation. "To help us stay ahead of the curve, this bipartisan legislation would enable greater collaboration between the United States and Israel—a major hub for new and emerging cybersecurity technologies. Together, we can develop forward-thinking cybersecurity technologies and initiatives that protect both nations from malicious cyber actors."
"Cyberattacks pose a grave risk to our national security, intellectual property, personal data, and public safety. The recent SolarWinds hack demonstrated how vulnerable U.S. networks are to cyberattacks and should serve as a wake-up call," said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).
"By facilitating closer cooperation with our ally Israel, our bipartisan bill would help the U.S. develop sophisticated cybersecurity technology and thwart future attacks," added Collins, who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Congressman James Langevin, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, added that "At a time when our cyber defenses are being tested like never before, we must explore every avenue available to invest in cutting-edge cybersecurity research and innovation. This bill will devote resources towards strengthening our cybersecurity partnership with our staunch ally Israel and yield valuable solutions to help keep Americans safe in cyberspace."
This is not the first legislation of its kind introduced by Senator Rosen. In the previous Congress, she introduced the "U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Center of Excellence Act", which called on the State Department to consider the potential advantages of the establishment of such a center. Congressman Langwin first introduced the "U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act" in 2016 after visiting Israel.