Rep. Lucas cosponsors bill to protect COVID-19 research from Russian & Chinese cyberattacks

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NUTLEY, NJ – FEBRUARY 28: A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation on February 28, 2020 in Nutley, New Jersey. The facility develops novel therapies for some of the world’s most difficult diseases. At least 53 countries have reported cases of infection. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (KFOR) – Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas is cosponsoring a bill that will help research institutions and universities protect COVID-19 research from Chinese and Russian cyberattacks.

Lucas, a House Science, Space and Technology Committee ranking member, and Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) introduced the bill on Tuesday, according to a news release issued by Lucas’ office.

“The bill will give universities and research institutions access to cybersecurity guidance developed specifically for their needs,” the news release states.

Federal agencies receive cybersecurity standards and guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

NIST also provides voluntary best practices for private industry.

The bill charges NIST with producing specific guidance, based on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, institutions and universities conducting COVID-19 research.

Barr is a member of the China Task Force, which is working to counter emerging threats from the Chinese government.

“Congress must act to safeguard critical scientific Coronavirus research being conducted at universities nationwide,” Barr said. “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.”

Lucas said cyberattacks are a very real concern.

“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.”

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