Jun 17 2021

Graham, Whitehouse, Blumenthal, Tillis Reintroduce Legislation to Fight Cybercrime

WASHINGTON – Following a spate of crippling cyberattacks this year from hackers based in Russia and around the globe, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) today reintroduced the International Cybercrime Prevention Act to arm law enforcement with the tools necessary to fight back and better protect Americans. 

“When it comes to cybercrime and cyberterrorism, we have lost deterrence,” said Senator Graham.  “This legislation will dramatically increase penalties for those engaged in cybercrime and cyberterrorism, hopefully sending the message that America will not tolerate such criminal activity against our economy and our people. Further, it is my hope that this new legislation becomes law and will be vigorously used by the Department of Justice.”

“The more we shift control of everyday life to cyberspace, the more opportunities we open to international cybercriminals.  From ransomware attacks on American companies and critical infrastructure to the pillaging of citizens’ private data for profit, it’s clear we need to arm authorities to protect Americans against cybercrime,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This bill would give law enforcement new tools to crack down on criminal activity and hold bad actors accountable.”

“This bill would supply the Department of Justice with the tools and resources necessary to protect our country from future cyberattacks,” said Senator Blumenthal.  “From critical water supplies and natural gas lines to government agencies and our elections, recent attacks have revealed glaring vulnerabilities in our nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure.  Further delay isn’t an option – we need the International Cybercrime Prevention Act to bolster our defense against hackers and foreign adversaries who will stop at nothing to disrupt and meddle.”    

“Over the last few months, we have seen the severity cybercrime attacks can have on our nation’s infrastructure, and it is time for Congress to ensure our cyber defense can withstand these attacks in the future,” said Senator Tillis. “This bipartisan legislation will give our law enforcement the tools needed to strengthen our cybersecurity defenses and protect critical infrastructure across the nation.”

As our lives shifted online during the COVID-19 pandemic, a U.N. report found that there was a significant rise in cybercrime.  The FBI reported a similar increase.  According to The Center for Strategic and International Studies, there have been 56 significant cyber incidents this year with losses of more than a million dollars each.  This includes the breach of the Colonial Pipeline Company, one of the largest ransomware attacks ever on an American energy system that disrupted the East Coast’s fuel supply. 

The International Cybercrime Prevention Act would update our current security framework to match these types of threats by creating new criminal violations for those targeting critical infrastructure like dams, power plants, hospitals, and election infrastructure.  The bill would also make it easier to counter and disrupt botnets — networks of infected computers used to facilitate a wide range of criminal activity, including the theft of personal and financial information, intrusions into online bank accounts, and identity theft. 

The International Cybercrime Prevention Act would:

  • Allow authorities to confiscate communication devices and other property used to commit cybercrime.
  • Enhance prosecutors’ ability to shut down botnets and other digital infrastructure used for a wide range of illegal activity.
  • Create a new criminal violation for individuals who have knowingly targeted critical infrastructure, including dams, power plants, hospitals, and election infrastructure.
  • Prohibit cybercriminals from selling access to botnets to carry out cyber-attacks.

At a press conference today, Senators Graham, Whitehouse, and Blumenthal emphasized their long history of working together to bring attention to the issue of cybercrime and the urgent need to protect Americans in cyberspace. 

Click here to watch the senators’ press conference announcing the bill.

A more comprehensive summary of the bill can be found here