Representatives from San Antonio cybersecurity companies such as Webhead, IPSecure, and Inflow packed a standing room only room at a San Antonio Chamber of Commerce cyber networking event Thursday evening to learn about the latest cybersecurity and information technology (IT) laws and federal contracting innovation.
The Chamber invited Amanda Crawford, executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) and Government Services Administration (GSA) regional administrator Robert “Bobby” Babcock to share news about the latest Texas state legislation and changes in federal government contracting. Future events will feature other state and federal experts who can help inform San Antonio’s cybersecurity community about relevant developments, Chamber president and CEO Richard Perez told attendees.
“We made a special effort to get here from Fort Hood this morning so we could hear from and meet tonight’s speakers,” said Kekai Namauu, founder of cybersecurity training provider Dynamic Advancement.
Texas lawmakers were productive in the latest legislative session, passing multiple bills to increase oversight, collaboration, and implementation of cybersecurity practices across the state. Crawford noted the state’s need for cybersecurity measures for its aging IT systems.
“We fight budgetary constraints that force government entities to choose whether to spend a dollar on their mission or a dollar on their IT infrastructure, modernization, and security,” Crawford said.
86th Texas Legislature Cybersecurity Laws
The 86th Texas Legislature bills will not only affect the public sector organizations using state computer networks but will also impact businesses and private organizations. They cover cybersecurity, election security, data privacy, and protecting the state’s utility grid.
- HB 1 (the state’s appropriation bill) assigns additional resources for state cybersecurity programs such as multifactor authentication, secure coding method training, and security rating services for state agencies’ publicly facing webpages. The legislature also funded over a billion dollars for state agency cybersecurity and legacy system projects.
- HB 1421 requires the Secretary of State to increase the protections of Texas election systems, train employees and county election officers, and provide timely notification in the event of an elections security breach.
- HB 4390 creates a Texas Privacy Protection Advisory Council to study privacy laws. It also amends the Business and Commerce Code to require Texas businesses to disclose data breaches to individuals no later than 60 days after the breach.
- HB 3834 requires state and local government employees and state contractors to complete cybersecurity training. Vendors who contract with a state agency must also be certified on the required cybersecurity training if they work with state data systems.
- SB 64 revises cybersecurity requirements for state agency information resources and requires state agencies to report on cybersecurity breaches to the DIR. It also directs the Higher Education Coordinating Board and DIR to encourage institutions of higher education to develop cybersecurity programs.
- SB 820 requires each school district to adopt a cybersecurity policy and designate a cybersecurity coordinator who will report if they have a cybersecurity attack.
- SB 475 and SB 936 strengthen the state’s defense against cyber and physical attacks of its electric grid. SB 475 directs the formation of the Texas Electric Grid Security Council to coordinate the sharing and implementation of best security practices within the industry. SB 936 created a framework for collaboration among state regulators, utilities and the reliability coordinator to secure critical grid infrastructure against cyberattacks through a cybersecurity monitor program.
GSA To Simplify Contract Management
GSA is streamlining the agency’s 24 Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts into a single schedule over the next two years, Babcock said. This change offers IT vendors an opportunity to expand their offerings beyond the Schedule 70 used to list technology products and services without the need for maintaining separate contracts.
The GSA innovation is welcome news to Inflow founder Angel Crockett, as the “consolidation will eliminate the need to manage multiple contracts with multiple contracting officers,” she said.
The agency also plans to adopt new features to make the federal contracting platform more like what Amazon offers its customers. The effort is part of its Commercial Platforms Initiative to create the first federal online marketplace for government agencies to buy commercial items more easily.
“You will be able to track your purchases and see what is being delivered,” Babcock said. “Right now, agencies can’t see what they’ve ordered, let alone get an idea of when to expect a delivery.”
As San Antonio’s cybersecurity network has developed, the Chamber’s CyberSecurity San Antonio monthly meetings have outgrown the Chamber’s conference room. Thursday’s Chamber event featuring state and federal speakers provided many small business owners the opportunity to follow up in person with questions on state and federal initiatives that could their cyber and IT companies.
The Chamber’s inaugural CyberSplash event “successfully connected leaders at the state and federal level with innovative solutions based right here in San Antonio,” said Amanda Keammerer, vice president for cybersecurity at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
Featured image is of the Texas Capitol. Photo courtesy Texas State Legislature.