Israel and the United States are poised to collaborate more closely on cybersecurity research and development as lawmakers passed two bills that aim to strengthen the collaboration between the nations.

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation introduced by Reps. John Ratcliffe of Texas and Jim Langevin of Rhode Island.

The bills, the United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016 and the United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2016, now await action in the Senate.

The two bills were introduced in July, after the lawmakers returned from a congressional delegation trip to Israel that focused on key cybersecurity issues facing both countries.

“Israel is a vital strategic partner, and I’m pleased to be working closely with Rep. Langevin to preserve and strengthen this important bond through joint cybersecurity efforts. Cybersecurity is national security, and enhancing joint research and development efforts between the United States and Israel will improve our countries’ ability to deter malicious cyber actors,” said Ratcliffe, who chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies.

Greater threats require more collaboration

Collaboration between nations is believed by industry experts to be one of the best ways to prevent the growing threat of cyber-attacks, and there is a critical need for countries across the world to share research and development and innovations.

Increasing mobile and web usage and social media are among the key factors contributing to the “explosive increase” in cyber threats, MarketsandMarkets, a Dallas, Texas-based market research firm said in a report. The global cybersecurity market will be worth more than $170 billion by 2020, according to an estimate by MarketsandMarkets, with companies globally focusing on security solutions but also services.

“I’m glad the House passed these bills to amplify the work already being done to tackle the growing cyber threats we both face, and I’m hopeful this legislation will serve as a solid foundation for a sustained cybersecurity partnership as we look to address new and evolving cyber issues moving forward,” Ratcliff said.

“My trip to Israel with Congressman Ratcliffe was an illuminating experience, and reinforced my belief that our countries have much to learn from one another when it comes to cybersecurity,” said Langevin, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.

“This belief has only been reinforced in the intervening months as we saw cyber-attacks that targeted the very foundation of our nation, our electoral system,” he said. “Nations share many cybersecurity problems with the private sector, but they do have distinct national security challenges in cyberspace that they must address. Our legislation will further strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and drive innovative, collaborative thinking about homeland security priorities. I am so pleased that my colleagues in the House recognize that cybersecurity is the security challenge of our time, and I urge the Senate to act without delay.”

The United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act expands a binational research and development program at the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency to include cybersecurity technologies. This collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and the Israeli Ministry of Public Security helps new products pass through the so-called “valley of death” — the period between basic and early-phase applied research through to successful commercialization. It will help both countries develop solutions to the unique security problems found in the cyber domain, according to a statement issued by Ratcliffe.

The United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act will create a cybersecurity grant program for joint research and development ventures between Israeli and US entities. The Secretary of Homeland Security will determine research requirements with help from an advisory board made up of members from US-Israeli partnerships, such as the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation and the United States-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation.