U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Research Bill Passes House

Nov. 29 — The U.S. would enhance its cybersecurity relationship with Israel under a bill passed by the House Nov. 29.

The bill (H.R. 5877) would expand cooperative research agreements between the two allies. The passage of the bill signals the government’s willingness, at least in the House, to promote international cybersecurity relationships.

It is unclear if the Senate will clear the bill or if President Barack Obama would sign it. President-elect Donald Trump may be willing to sign similar legislation into law next year. Both cybersecurity and maintaining a strong relationship with Israel have been talking points for Trump during the election.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) said in a Nov. 29 statement that “nations share cybersecurity problems with the private sector, but they do have distinct national security challenges in cyberspace that they must address.” The bill would “further strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and drive innovative, collaborative thinking about homeland security priorities,” Langevin, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus said.

Brandon Cavanaugh, chief technology officer and co-founder of cybersecurity solutions company CYGRU in Arlington, Va., told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 29 that “the best solutions are borne out of an equally diverse set of skills and experiences” because “today’s cyber threat actors are global and diverse.” The bill may help grow a stronger cybersecurity relationship between the countries but “there is no such thing as a cybersecuirty silver bullet” and any approach needs “the right people, processes and technology,” he said.

Research Partnership

The U.S.-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act, H.R. 5877, gives the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate the ability to expand its cooperation agreements with Israel to include research to improve cybersecurity capability and preparedness.

The bill, introduced by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), also would require the DHS to include updates on cooperative activities and descriptions of obstacles related to implementing those agreements in a report that it submits to Congress every five years.

Cavanaugh said that Israeli cybersecurity companies, such as Tel Aviv, Israel-based Check Point Software Technologies Ltd, “have challenged the market” and also are “contributing as visionaries in emerging fields.” Even though U.S. companies “have contributed the most to global cybersecurity solutions,” there is a definite need for international cybersecurity cooperation to enhance national cybersecurity, he said.

Joint Venture Funding Delayed

A similar bill, the U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act (H.R. 5843), was also considered on the House floor but wasn’t voted upon. It is unclear when the bill will be considered again.

The bill, introduced by Langevin, would establish a cybersecurity grant program under DHS to support joint ventures between U.S. and Israeli entities. Eligible joint ventures would include partnerships between U.S. and Israeli businesses, nonprofits or academic institutions. Partnerships involving the U.S. National Laboratories, as well as the U.S. and Israeli governments, would also be eligible.

The bill would also create a three-member advisory board that would perform impartial reviews “of the scientific and technical merit” of applications. The advisory board would also conduct performance reviews of grant projects and would sunset along with the program.

The board, chosen by the DHS, would consist of one representative of the U.S. government, one member chosen from a list provided by the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation and one member chosen from a list provided by the U.S.-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation.

Source: U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Research Bill Passes House