The military bill contains two dozen provisions to strengthen cyberdefenses. It gives the federal government the ability to actively hunt for foreign hackers trying to penetrate computer networks and establishes of a national cyberdirector who would coordinate the government’s defenses and responses to such attacks.
“This is an incredibly important bill,” said Senator Angus King, a Maine independent who was co-chairman of the bipartisan panel, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. “This is the most important cyber legislation ever passed by the U.S. Congress.”
Had those provisions been in place this year, the Trump administration might have had a better shot at detecting and stopping the breach more quickly, lawmakers said.
But other commission recommendations that might have also helped discover the Russian hack far sooner, including giving the government the power to search for threats on some private networks, did not make it into this year’s bill.