Boehnke cybersecurity bill advances in Senate

Measure from Tri-Cities lawmaker with cyber-security expertise would better coordinate state’s effort to protect Washingtonians from malicious data breaches

Today the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted to advance Sen. Matt Boehnke’s legislation to help protect the state from malicious cyber activities, such as ransomware.

“The oil pipeline ransomware attack a couple of years ago is an example of how critical areas of the energy infrastructure – both public and private – are at risk like never before. Clearly, we must take aggressive action to make sure that we can prevent cyberattacks, be ready for an attack when one occurs and able to bounce back from an attack quickly,” said Boehnke.

“Cybersecurity is a complex and multifaceted challenge, and there are several areas where lack of coordination, miscommunication and gaps in policy can leave us vulnerable and without the policies, strategies and other tools we need to protect Washingtonians and their data.

“This bill seeks to solve that problem by centralizing and refining plans and technology across state agencies to better protect everyone from cybersecurity threats.”

Substitute Senate Bill 5518 would establish the Cybersecurity Advisory Committee as a subcommittee of the Emergency Management Council; create the Technology Services Board Security Subcommittee within the Technology Services Board; and expand the Department of Commerce’s authority regarding energy-related activities to include preparing and updating contingency plans for securing energy infrastructure against all physical and cybersecurity threats.

“We must get the funding, the process and the transparency we need in our data-protection systems, and prioritize these efforts,” Boehnke said. “Washington is a data-centric state, a tech-driven state, and a leader among the tech community. We can and should do better.”

SSB 5518 now goes to the Rules Committee, the final stop before consideration by the full Senate.