The American Congress, driven by political bitterness in the wake of the unsuccessful impeachment of President Donald Trump, might actually stop partisan bickering for a while. They might actually clamp down on the annual $400 billion in cyber-attacks on American businesses.
That is the hope of some Democratic and Republican members of Congress, with an area lawmaker among those sponsoring bi-partisan legislation to fight cyber-crime.
America Under Attack
“Cyber-attacks can be devastating for communities across our country, from ransom-ware attacks that can block access to school or medical records to cyber-attacks that can shut down electrical grids or banking services,” says United States Senator Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire).
Her Cyber-security State Coordinator Act would require every state has a cyber-security coordinator. The coordinator would work with all levels of government to prevent and respond to cyber-attacks.
“Cyber-security for state and local governments is just as important as federal cyber-security, and frequently, they lack the resources, technical know-how, and situational awareness to secure their systems,” said Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a bill co-sponsor.
The Cyber-security State Coordinator Act would create a federal program named after the bill. It requires each state have a cyber-security coordinator. This person will have responsibility for working with all levels of government to prepare for, prevent and respond to cyber-attacks.
An Effort in the Lower House
In the United States House of Representatives, Congressman Andy Kim (D-New Jersey) has offered a bill called the Hact Act. It is legislation that would remove the immunity of foreign governments responsible for cyber-attacks.
“The threat is real,” Kim said, “because we’re seeing people’s lives ruined and businesses endangered at the hands of foreign sponsored cyber-attacks. These attacks aren’t going away. What we see today is only the tip of iceberg.”
A cyber security expert says the proposals are good.
“We are very supportive of these bills,” said Kelvin Coleman, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. He adds many Fortune 500 companies can protect themselves.
“But many Mom and Pop companies and smaller firms just don’t have the resources and often don’t know where to begin on this problem.” Coleman adds that, “We’ve known about it for a while, but ransom-ware is still a huge problem for businesses and organizations.”
Coleman warns the problem could dramatically expand over the next few years.
“Billions more new connected devices will be coming on line over the next five years,” according to Coleman.
Yes, Something Might Pass This Year
Congressman Kim said he believes these anti-cybercrime bills can pass this year. That’s even though most important bills usually don’t clear Congress and get signed into law in a presidential election year. Still, he says sometimes politicians can put blood feuds aside, at least for a while.
“We’ve shown,” he adds, “that when it comes to our own security and pushing back against these kinds of attacks, Congress can check out politics at the door and get the job done.”
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