WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, joined Washington Post Live to discuss how he is leading efforts to fight back against cyber-attacks that disrupt lives and livelihoods and hold foreign adversaries and cybercriminals accountable for targeting American networks. During the interview, Peters highlighted his efforts to improve how the federal government combats online attacks, including ransomware, and ensuring federal agencies have the resources to protect public and private information technology systems.
On the economic impact of cyber-attacks: “We know how devastating these attacks are on our economy and on our companies – and especially small businesses. I’m struck by a statistic that shows that if a small business gets hit with a ransomware attack, nearly 60% are out of businesses in a year to a year and half.”
On the importance of public and private sector sharing information after cyber-attacks: “One of the first steps in fighting cyber-attacks is understanding who is attacking who and what methods are they using so that we can analyze that, as well as warn others that we know that these attacks are occurring, that this is how they are occurring, this is the techniques that are being used, and you should prepare accordingly knowing that this is out there.”
On his successful efforts to advance cybersecurity legislation: “We can move meaningful legislation. I think we’re proving that, and just our track record over the last few months, and how we’ve been moving significant pieces of legislation, either as standalone bills, or in packages, whether it’s the bipartisan infrastructure package, or hopefully the Incident Reporting Bill, as well as the FISMA bill that we have, will go in the National Defense Authorization. Clearly, this is a national defense issue. So certainly, I believe our committee is picking up the baton and running with it as quickly as we can.”
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As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led efforts to increase our nation’s cybersecurity defenses. His bill to enhance cybersecurity assistance to K-12 educational institutions across the country was recently signed into law. Peters’ bipartisan bills to bolster federal cybersecurity and require critical infrastructure owners and operators to report to CISA if they experience a cyber-attack, and other organizations, including nonprofits, many businesses, and state and local governments, to notify the federal government they make a ransom payment recently advanced in the Senate. A provision based on Peters’ legislation that would provide additional resources and better coordination to respond to and recover from serious cyber-attacks that threaten national security passed the Senate as a part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Peters is also conducting an investigation into the role cryptocurrencies continue to play in emboldening and incentivizing cybercriminals to commit ransomware attacks.