Senate Approves Scutari-Gopal Bill to Assess Cybersecurity by State & Local Government

The Link News, October 19, 2022

Each government entity at the state and local levels in New Jersey would be required to conduct a review of its cybersecurity systems and make recommendations for any needed security improvements, under terms of legislation approved by the Senate today.

The bill, S-484, authored by Senate President Nick Scutari and Senator Vin Gopal, would require each department of state government, each state college and university, and each municipality, county and school district to conduct the review and report the findings to the Governor and the Legislature.

“Government holds a vast amount of data about residents, including information that is confidential and personally identifiable,” said Senator Scutari (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “These databases have become attractive targets for cybercriminals, making the information potentially vulnerable to theft and misuse. We need to get an up-to-date assessment of how safe the information is and what steps are needed to make it more secure.”

The bill would require each principal department in the Executive Branch of state government and each state college and university, and local government to conduct a thorough review of its cybersecurity infrastructure to evaluate its effectiveness, identify any high-risk issues, offer strategies to modernize the systems and ask for changes to laws, regulations, or policies to enhance security practices. The findings would have to be reported no later than 45 days following the bill’s effective date.

“Citizens are often required to provide certain types of data to state government agencies, so protecting that information and maintaining the public’s trust is critically important,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “With the increase in cybersecurity threats and attacks, we need to be proactive in keeping this information safe and confidential.”

The Senate vote was 37-0.