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 HatchKoch groups: Don't renew expired tax breaks in government funding bill Hatch tweets link to 'invisible' glasses after getting spotted removing pair that wasn't there DHS giving ‘active defense’ cyber tools to private sector, secretary says 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 MarkeyDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals Dems say they have 50 votes in Senate to overrule net neutrality repeal 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 BrooksEthics panel denied details on lawmakers accused of harassment Ethics panel asks for details of past harassment cases against serving lawmakers Pelosi amps up pressure on Conyers to resign MORE (R-Ind.) introduced companion legislation in the House last week.

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“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.