(The Center Square) — A state lawmaker says Georgia needs to create a state cyber command and should be hastened in the wake of a Russian cyber-attack that hit the University System of Georgia and several federal agencies.
According to officials, Russian hackers have claimed responsibility for the Friday, June 16, attack, which exploited a vulnerability in “MOVEit,” a data transfer tool.
During the 2023 legislative session, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 97, the Georgia Cyber Command Act. However, the state House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security amended the bill to focus on access to medical cannabis.
“This attack on our government systems is a wake-up call that American computer networks are constantly at risk from cyber-attack,” Senator Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, said in an announcement.
“Georgians in both the public and private sector should use this as a learning experience and ensure all of their computers, phones and tablets have the latest security updates,” Anavitarte added. “I also call on the Georgia House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and immediately pass legislation to create a Georgia Cyber Command.”
The measure would transfer the Georgia Technology Authority’s duties to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, the state’s lead information security agency. The governor would appoint a statewide chief information security officer to oversee the Georgia Cyber Command, liaising with the public and private sectors to develop partnerships “that allow for information sharing.”
During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers passed SB 93, prohibiting state employees from using social media platforms a foreign adversary controls — such as TikTok — on state devices because of security concerns.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp subsequently signed the measure. The prohibition applies to state-owned devices the legislative and judicial branches use and those in state K-12 schools.
Anavitarte, chairman of the Senate Study Committee on the Creation of a Georgia Cybersecurity Force, sponsored both SB 93 and SB 97.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor