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DHS-logoThe U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would call for collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and non-profit entities to better defend against cyber attacks.

The bill, known as the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act, allows DHS to provide training and technical assistance to state and local agencies—including universities—to prepare for and respond to cybersecurity risks and incidents.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) introduced the legislation in mid-March, which passed overwhelmingly with a 394-3 vote on Monday.

“It’s critical that localities understand the impact cyber attacks could have on their ability to function, and are prepared to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from harmful cyber incidents,” Rep. Castro said in statement.

“This bill will allow communities to learn from our nation’s best cyber experts as they ensure local first responders are equipped to defend against and respond to cyber attacks,” he added.

In addition to conducting training and simulation exercises, the bill would also aid states and communities develop information sharing programs and update their emergency plans to include cybersecurity risk, incident prevention and response protocols.

“Increased collaboration will strengthen our defenses and keep us one step ahead of cyber attackers,” said Rep. Castro.

“I’m hopeful the Senate will follow the House’s lead, pass this bill, and protect the American people from a growing threat to their safety.”