U.S. Senators Target Ransomware By Targeting Countries That Allow It
(Refiles to correct Rubio’s title in the second paragraph)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two senior U.S. senators on Thursday planned legislation that would tackle ransomware attacks against U.S. infrastructure by sanctioning countries hosting cybercriminals, as well as strengthening protections against the attacks.
Senators Marco Rubio, Republican Deputy Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein, senior member of the Intelligence and Justice Committees, are scheduled to introduce the “Sanction and Stop Ransomware Act” on Thursday.
According to a copy of the bill seen by Reuters, this would require developing cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure, tightening regulation of cryptocurrency – which is often demanded as a ransom – and ordering the State Department and the intelligence community to designate any country known to provide support for ransomware claim programs as a “state sponsor of ransomware”.
The threat of ransomware attacks on U.S. infrastructure first appeared to Americans on the East Coast when an attack on the Colonial Pipeline Co. in May resulted in widespread gas station shortages.
The Justice Department was then able to help the company recover some $ 2.3 million in cryptocurrency ransom it paid to hackers.
About $ 350 million in ransom was paid to cybercriminals in 2020, an increase of more than 300% from the previous year, the department said.
Last month, President Joe Biden warned that if the United States finds itself in a “real gun war” with great power, it could be the result of a major cyberattack on the United States, pointing out that Washington sees it as a growing threat posed by hackers. from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
(Report by Patricia Zengerle, edited by Alistair Bell)