Wolf OKs bill for PA National Guard to provide cybersecurity training to local governments

Malware is reportedly the leading front of asymmetrical warfare.

Valerie Gaydos

Valerie Gaydos Valerie Gaydos’ Facebook page

Along with the state budget’s passage on Friday came the signing of dozens of bills by Gov. Tom Wolf addressing subjects from energy and the environment to public safety and military affairs. 

Among the legislation signed into law was House Bill 2412, a cybersecurity bill introduced by the House’s Cybersecurity Caucus chairs, state Reps. Craig Williams and Valerie Gaydos. The bill authorizes the governor to order the Pennsylvania National Guard to support state and local government entities with cybersecurity support, training, exercises and more.

“We don’t know how many times we’ve been intruded in the cyber space,” Williams, a Republican from Chester and Delaware counties, said during a House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee meeting in April. “(Malware) is the leading front of asymmetrical warfare … Part of the effort by Rep. Gaydos and I is to raise awareness about this and try to get some lateral coordination and communication going.”

Williams, an attorney with experience in cybersecurity and terrorism prosecution, said the bill is about leveraging the National Guard’s expertise to allow the commonwealth to assist in training and incident response. Gaydos, who has also touted her private sector experience related to cybersecurity, stressed the importance of communication between entities. 

“There are three ways we, as legislators, can affect things and that’s legislation, regulation and communication,” Gaydos, a Republican from Allegheny County, said at the April meeting. “And, oftentimes, communication is really the crux to solving a lot of these problems … This bill actually gives the Pennsylvania National Guard the ability and authority to provide functional support for cybersecurity across the commonwealth and it increases that communication ability amongst our agencies.” 

On top of pitching the legislation, Gaydos recommended individuals take steps themselves to ensure their devices are protected, including enabling multi-factor authentication, setting up antivirus programming and updating software regularly. 

“A lot of the time, it’s very simple, we are our own worst enemies, sometimes, in cybersecurity. We know exactly what we’re supposed to be doing but we don’t necessarily do it,” Gaydos said. 

The bill was unanimously passed in the Senate on June 30 and signed into law on Friday. 

In addition to the cybersecurity legislation, the General Assembly passed other measures related to the commonwealth’s military branches. Among them was Senate Bill 1286, introduced by state Sen. Katie Muth, a Democrat from Montgomery County, which increases the minimum pay for guard members from $100 to $180 per day. The bills were part of the $45.2 billion budget passed by the General Assembly Friday.