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 HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators 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 MarkeyGreta Thunberg scolds Congress on climate action: 'I know you are trying but just not hard enough' Obama meets with Greta Thunberg: 'One of our planet's greatest advocates' Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight 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 BrooksHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Pelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House The Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers 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.