WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) announced the introduction of their bipartisan Strengthening VA Cybersecurity Act, which would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to obtain an independent cybersecurity assessment of VA information systems and submit to Congress a plan to address the cybersecurity weaknesses found in the assessment. This bill has been endorsed by AMVETS and the Paralyzed Veterans of America and comes in light of growing concerns about possible Russian cyberattacks as retaliation for American sanctions. Companion legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Frank Mrvan (D-Ind.), Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Technology Modernization Subcommittee.
“Despite having the second-highest IT budget, the VA ranks 5th lowest out of other departments on cybersecurity funding,” said Senator Blackburn. “The lack of key cybersecurity management elements at the VA makes our veterans' personal information vulnerable. As VA continues modernization efforts, it is critical that these systems are adequately secure.”
“In light of the ongoing threat of possible Russian cyberattacks, we must take proactive steps to enhance the cybersecurity of our country – including by protecting our veterans,” said Senator Rosen. “The Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest integrated health care network in the United States, yet it spends less as a percentage of its overall budget on cybersecurity relative to other government agencies. This bipartisan bill would help us understand the VA’s cyber vulnerabilities and ensure we protect our veterans’ personal information from malicious cyberattacks.”
“Personal data breaches are seemingly more and more common at the VA and among the veteran community,” said Joe Chenelly, Executive Director of AMVETS. “Foreign adversaries and common criminals often target our veterans. Senator Rosen and Blackburn’s legislation is a step toward better security for our Nation’s veterans and we strongly support it.”