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 HatchFinance to hold hearing on ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea Week ahead in finance: Clock ticking for GOP on tax reform 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. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack Dems propose data security bill after Equifax hack 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 BrooksThe Online Safety Modernization Act is a much-needed response to a growing problem Ethics panel extends review of Rep. Collins over investments Senators introduce 'cyber hygiene' bill 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.