Barr and Lucas Introduce Legislation to Give Universities Tools to Protect COVID-19 Research from Cyberattacks

Cheyenne, OK – Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) and House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced a bill today that will help universities and research institutions protect COVID-19 research from cyberattacks by China and Russia.

The bill will give universities and research institutions access to cybersecurity guidance developed specifically for their needs. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) currently sets cybersecurity standards and guidelines for federal agencies and provides voluntary best practices for private industry. This bill directs NIST to produce specific guidance, based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, to universities and other institutions conducting research on COVID-19.

Rep. Barr is a member of the China Task Force, which is working to counter emerging threats from the Chinese Communist Party. “Congress must act to safeguard critical scientific Coronavirus research being conducted at universities nationwide,” said Barr. “My bill would have the Director of National Institute of Standards and Technology put forth guidance to preserve COVID-19 research and greatly reduce the threat of cyberattacks. This includes providing best practices and guidelines that will protect our national security.”

“We’ve seen disturbing evidence of state-sponsored cyberattacks from the Chinese Communist Party directed at universities and organizations conducting vital research on combating COVID-19,” Lucas said. “This compromises our research efforts and delays our ability to identify vaccines and treatments. NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework is the gold standard for cyber protection, and tailoring these guidelines for academia and research institutions will keep our data safe from theft and manipulation by foreign actors. It’s a simple but strong way to protect American research and support the fight against COVID-19. I’m proud to join Congressman Barr on this important work.” 

The bill text is available here.

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