Texas to Enhance the State’s Cybersecurity Programs

By Eunice Sohn and Jeffrey Stockdale

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the public continues to grow more wary of cybersecurity concerns. Recent hearings on election security further highlight the need for up-to-date cybersecurity programs across the nation. Texas has recognized this problem and has taken actions to address the matter.

On June 12, Texas passed the Texas Cybersecurity Act, which provides for an audit of Texas information systems, a review of state digital data storage, training on how to respond to cybersecurity risks and attacks, and the creation of a state response plan by September 1, 2018 to be used in the event of a cyberattack. Texas is the first to pass legislation aiming to address the rising cybersecurity concerns within state agencies.

The legislation requires the Secretary of State to conduct a study and issue a report detailing cyberattacks on election infrastructure and recommendations to protect election systems by 2018. The analysis would also include a study of vulnerabilities and risks associated with county voting machines and the lists of registered voters.

The act also creates an Information Sharing and Analysis Center and a Cybersecurity Council, which will allow state agencies to share effective cybersecurity practices with each other. Finally, the act establishes two new committees in the Texas legislature, the Senate and House Select Committees on Cybersecurity.

With states relying heavily on digitally connected networks and infrastructure, states can no longer turn a blind eye to cybersecurity. According to Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, the primary sponsor of HB 8, “With more sensitive information stored online, we need the necessary tools to educate and protect ourselves from the rapidly evolving world of sophisticated cyberattacks.”

As the utilization of cloud services becomes more commonplace, entities that use internet-based services risk data breaches and loss of personal information. These risks have increased dramatically and heightened anxiety over information that is shared with the government. The Texas legislation is an important initiative intended to address these concerns.