Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Feb. 22 announced several steps to help meet President Biden’s goal to advance cybersecurity in the Federal government, including increasing spending to improve cybersecurity in some areas.

Mayorkas listed various ways that DHS will seek to meet the top-line mission, including increasing spending through grants, leading efforts to mitigate security risks, strengthening partnerships with the private sector, and expanding investments in infrastructure and the workforce required to defend against cyberattacks.

“Cybersecurity is more important than ever, and we will build on the Department’s excellent work as we transform our whole-of-government approach to tackle the challenge we face as a nation,” said Mayorkas. “This week is just the beginning of a series of actions DHS will pursue nationally and internationally to improve cybersecurity at all levels.”

This week, DHS is announcing an increase in the required minimum spend on cybersecurity through FEMA grants. And on Feb. 25, Mayorkas will speak at the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition and “issue a call to action to build a diverse cybersecurity workforce and leverage DHS’ partnerships to tackle the growing risk from ransomware.”

Mayorkas also will reinforce CISA’s new “Reduce the Risk Ransomware” campaign, which encourages public and private sector organizations to mitigate ransomware risk.

“For several years, the Federal government has underestimated the cyber threats posed to state and local networks and neglected the federal government’s responsibility to help defend them. Inaction has proven costly for victims – from Albany to Atlanta. And response to opportunistic breaches takes time away from defending against more sophisticated attacks,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Yvette Clark, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation Subcommittee, in a separate statement.

“We are encouraged to see Secretary Mayorkas taking the cyber threats to state and local networks seriously and look forward to working with him on this important issue, particularly as we prepare to reintroduce the State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act,” the chairs wrote.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.