Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., want the Department of Commerce (DOC), including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), to take additional actions to address cybersecurity threats.

The senators wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging her to build on NIST cyber efforts by developing the cybersecurity workforce, demonstrating new and existing cyber capabilities, ensuring resilient supply chains, and expanding research in emerging technologies.

“Cybersecurity threats are growing and evolving, so the Federal response must do so as well.  To ensure the safety and security of the American people and economy, DOC and NIST must be part of the solution,” the senators wrote. “The President’s Budget Request to level-fund NIST cybersecurity programs, while requesting significant increases across the agency, is insufficient to meet the need.”

Specifically, the senators called for the Commerce Department and NIST to become a bigger part of the solution and deepen its cyber role with “funding that matches the seriousness of the threat.”

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“Reliance on cyber-enabled systems provides an attractive target for U.S. adversaries and cybercriminals,” the letter says. “Separate threat assessments by the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security ranked cyberattacks as an acute threat to government at all levels as well as to the private sector.”

Earlier this year, Sen. Cantwell also wrote a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stating her concerns over the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and unclear cyber-related security standards.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.