US senators unveil legislation to crack down on cybercrimes

D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With cyber attacks causing major impacts throughout the country, a group of bipartisan senators is advancing legislation to bolster the country’s cyber defenses.

“We have known for over a decade that critical infrastructure was the top target of cyber criminals,” U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said.

Whitehouse says situations like the ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline shows private business need to do more.

“It’s the corporate community that has been caught with its figurative trousers down, having said for years ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got this. Don’t regulate us,'” Whitehouse said.

The bill would update security frameworks to match threats and create harsher punishments for those who target infrastructure like pipelines, power plants, hospitals and more.

“We have no policy in the United States of America as to what constitutes an act of war on this country in the cyber domain,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.

Blumenthal and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) say the solution will take cooperation from the private sector.

“If the private sector needs help from the government, I think we’re willing to make sure that happens,” Graham said.

Graham says the bill is an important step in protecting the country from international threats.

“I now deem this infrastructure. I’m one of the 11 Republicans. I’m going to insist that we consider putting this piece of legislation in that infrastructure bill,” Graham said.

Whitehouse, Blumenthal and Graham also said Russian President Vladimir Putin is well aware of the cyber attacks coming from his country, and he needs to stop them.

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