WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) today announced the introduction of the U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Act, legislation that authorizes a United States-Israel Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity to bring together leading cybersecurity experts to collaborate on issues of global security. Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY), Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA), and Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL) are serving as original co-sponsors of the bill.
“With cyberattacks becoming more and more common, it’s critical that the United States devote the resources necessary to ensure we stop bad actors in their tracks. The U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Act will enhance the framework for leaders from our two nations to work together and develop new ways to cooperate on cybersecurity,” said Congressman Cicilline. “As the world’s two leading investors in global cybersecurity, the United States and Israel will both benefit from increased advancements in this field.”
Congressman Zeldin added, “Cybersecurity threats are an increasing strategic concern for our country and our greatest ally, Israel. The U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Act will bring together leaders from the U.S. and Israel to address this growing threat that both of our countries face. I look forward to working closely with Congressman Cicilline to ensure that this important bill is passed and signed into law. This is a key initiative for the U.S. and Israel to work together on regarding coordination, expansion and development of the tools necessary to rapidly advance our cybersecurity capabilities.”
The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, which President Obama signed in December 2014, identifies cybersecurity as a major priority for the United States. Cicilline’s proposed United States-Israel Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity will bring together leaders in academia, the private sector, the non-profit community, and government agencies to research and develop new strategies for preventing cyber attacks, particularly on energy and water infrastructure.
“Cyber-attacks are one of the greatest threats to our national security,” added Congressman Israel. “I am proud to join Rep. Cicilline and my colleagues in introducing legislation that will help strengthen the bond between Israel and the United States, while also advancing our collective cybersecurity readiness. This partnership will go a long way in making sure our networks and systems remain secure.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has reported a sharp increase in the number of cyber attacks targeting industrial control system networks over the last year. Earlier this month, the Department of Justice blamed Iran for a 2013 cyber attack on the Bowman Avenue Dam, located just 30 miles north of New York City. Iran has also been blamed for a 2012 attack on Saudi Aramco, an incursion that partially wiped or destroyed 35,000 of the company’s computers and placed 10% of the world’s oil supply at risk, as well as a similar attack on Qatari natural gas company RasGas just two weeks later.
“Cyberattacks are a persistent, complex and growing trend for the United States and Israel,” said Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz. “As leaders in technology and cybersecurity, the United States and Israel have much to learn from each other and this initiative will help our two nations collaborate to combat shared threats.”
In large part due to continued Iranian hostility, Israel has developed a vaunted cybersecurity infrastructure rivaling that of any other nation. Today, the Israeli cybersecurity community includes roughly 430 cybersecurity companies, as well as 40 foreign research and development centers. According to Israel’s National Cyber Bureau, which reports to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the country was responsible for 20% of global investment in cybersecurity companies in 2015, putting it second only to the United States.
“As global threats evolve, so too must the strategy of the United States and our allies,” Congresswoman Frankel said. “This U.S.-Israel collaboration will ensure our two nations stay one step ahead of cyber attackers.”
Cicilline’s bill builds on existing efforts to strengthen American cybersecurity efforts. In February, President Obama requested that Congress increase funding for cybersecurity by $5 billion (35%), announced plans to establish a new senior federal cyber official, and appointed Rhode Island native Tom Donilon to lead a commission to enhance federal cybersecurity.