Rep. Wheeler bill signed into law to strengthen Illinois’ rapid response to cyberattacks

Legislation introduced and passed by Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, updating state law to ensure the state is equipped to respond effectively to cyber incidents has been signed into law by the Governor. The legislation is House Bill 4783. Specifically, the legislation amends the Disaster Relief Act to define “disaster” the same way it is defined in the Illinois Emergency Management Act under a bill Rep. Wheeler passed in 2021 (House Bill 3523/Public Act 102-0485).

“It is vital that we strengthen our preparedness and response posture to protect against the persistent threat of cyber incidents,” Rep. Wheeler said. “In 2020 there was a major data breach at the Illinois Department of Employment Security that compromised the personal information of more than 32,000 Illinois residents; and the Illinois State Board of Elections previously reported that they are under ‘constant threat’ from hackers after their database was targeted by international cybercriminals in 2016. With this bill now becoming law, we are shoring up Illinois’ ability to respond swiftly to cyber incidents like any other disaster.”

“Cyber incident” is now defined in state law as an event occurring on or conducted through a computer network that actually or imminently jeopardizes the integrity, confidentiality, or availability of computers, information or communications systems or networks, physical or virtual infrastructure controlled by computers or information systems, or information resident thereon that affect or control infrastructure or communications networks utilized by the public. This update to state law is necessary for the Governor to draw upon the Disaster Response and Recovery Fund to respond to a cyber incident.

“The risk of attacks on our cybersecurity is a very real, persistent threat,” Rep. Wheeler added. “Our dedicated professionals at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency do an outstanding job responding to a wide range of natural and man-made dangers to public safety 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In this digital age, they need to have the ability to respond to cyber incidents on a moment’s notice and act swiftly to protect Illinois residents.”

House Bill 4783 unanimously passed the House of Representatives on March 24. It then advanced to the State Senate, where it was carried by Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton, D-Western Springs, passing unanimously on April 6.