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 HatchLighthizer to testify before Senate next week as trade war ramps up Senators introduce bipartisan bill to improve IRS Senate panel advances Trump IRS nominee 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 slam Trump for considering Putin’s ’absurd’ request to question Americans Hillicon Valley: Mueller indicts Russians for DNC hack | US officially lifts ZTE ban | AT&T CEO downplays merger challenge | Microsoft asks for rules on facial recognition technology | Dems want probe into smart TVs Dems push FTC to investigate smart TVs over privacy concerns 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 BrooksHillicon Valley: Officials pressed on Russian interference at security forum | FCC accuses Sinclair of deception | Microsoft reveals Russia tried to hack three 2018 candidates | Trump backs Google in fight with EU | Comcast gives up on Fox bid Press shuts out lawmakers to win congressional softball game Indiana shooting ‘hero’ released from hospital 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.