Maryland Governor Signs Bills to Strengthen Cybersecurity

Maryland Governor Signs Bills to Strengthen Cybersecurity


Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday signed measures to strengthen cybersecurity in Maryland’s state and local governments, after lawmakers passed legislation and major investments earlier this year to protect vital systems from cyberattacks.

One of the measures is to help local governments, school systems and health departments work with more resources and assistance from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to improve cybersecurity. The agency will support local governments in developing vulnerability assessments and response plans.

“Today we are signing bipartisan legislation to further consolidate our position as America’s cyber capital and further strengthen our infrastructure to protect the people of Maryland from cyberattacks,” the Republican governor said of the number of companies. cybersecurity in the state, as well as federal agencies related to cybernetics and military installations.

In a year with a large budget surplus, Maryland lawmakers approved approximately $ 570 million for cybersecurity and information technology updates in the legislative session that ended last month. This includes about $ 200 million for cybersecurity and nearly $ 334 million for information technology development projects.

State Sen. Katie Fry Hester, a Democrat who was the Senate’s top sponsor of cybersecurity legislation, said it’s vital to protect the state’s basic public infrastructure.

“Now, everything is electronic: our drinking water, our transportation, our public safety, our education, our financial systems; that’s the government’s responsibility to maintain,” he said. “We need to make sure that the daily routines of our Marylanders are not disrupted, and I believe that these three bills combined with the $ 570 million in the 2023 budget will go a long way toward achieving those goals.”

Hogan also signed a bill to create information requirements for state agencies and local governments, including reporting cybersecurity incidents. Agencies will need to complete a cybersecurity assessment and correct the findings. Local government agencies will need to consult with the local emergency manager to create or update a cybersecurity preparedness and response plan.

Another measure expands cybersecurity requirements for state agencies and water and sewer systems. It requires public or private water or sewer systems that serve 10,000 or more users and receive financial assistance from the state to assess their vulnerability to a cyberattack.

Last year, a hacker entered the control system of a 15,000-person Florida water treatment plant and attempted to contaminate the water supply with a caustic chemical. Cybersecurity experts said the incident posed a growing danger as systems became more computerized and accessible via the Internet.

A provision in the bill also requires that at least 20% of the amount spent on information technology in fiscal year 2023 be spent in the following fiscal year.

State and local governments are ripe targets for hackers, although the administration of President Joe Biden has announced additional steps to protect federal government systems from piracy. Cities have also suffered cyberattacks.

Baltimore County was one of 50 school systems nationwide attacked with ransomware in 2020, costing the county millions of dollars. In December, the Maryland Department of Health was hit by a ransomware attack that prevented information on COVID-19-related health metrics.

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