Senators introduce 'cyber hygiene' bill

Senators introduce 'cyber hygiene' bill
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

A bipartisan pair of senators introduced legislation Thursday that would direct the federal government to develop and publish voluntary best practices for "good cyber hygiene."

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOvernight Finance: NAFTA defenders dig in | Tech pushes Treasury to fight EU on taxes | AT&T faces setback in merger trial | Dems make new case against Trump tax law | Trump fuels fight over gas tax What sort of senator will Mitt Romney be? Not a backbencher, even day one Lawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves MORE (R-Utah) couched the bill as an effort to combat cyber crime in the wake of the “WannaCry” ransomware attack that infected thousands of computers across the globe. 

The Promoting Good Cyber Hygiene Act, introduced by Hatch and Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyRegulators seek to remove barriers to electric grid storage Markey, Paul want to know if new rules are helping opioid treatment Oil spill tax on oil companies reinstated as part of budget deal MORE (D-Mass.), would direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish a set of baseline voluntary best practices for safeguarding against cyber intrusions that would be updated annually. 

The legislation would also direct the Department of Homeland Security to study cybersecurity threats to internet-connected devices, commonly known as the “Internet of Things.”

Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksNo criminal activity suspected in train accident Female GOP House members to wear red, white and blue to State of the Union House passes sexual abuse reporting bill after Nassar sentencing MORE (R-Ind.) introduced companion legislation in the House last week.

“Cyberattacks threaten our economy and inflict untold damage on thousands of Americans,” Hatch said in a statement Thursday. “Fortunately, proper cyber hygiene can prevent many of these attacks. This bill will establish best practices for cyber hygiene that will help Americans better protect themselves from enemies online.” 

The threat of global cyberattacks attracted renewed focus this week, as a deadly computer virus crippled companies in Ukraine and spread to systems in Europe and the United States.

Security researchers say that the malware, which emerged on Tuesday, appears to be disguised as ransomware but is primarily meant to cause destruction rather than achieve financial gain. 

The WannaCry attack in May affected systems in over 150 countries, including dealing a blow to Britain’s national health system, but the impact was less severe in the United States.