Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today announced that the Securing America’s Future: The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, a cybersecurity bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last night, includes important measures the Senator authored in an effort to combat the growing threat of international cybercriminals. Gillibrand’s legislation would put the U.S. at the forefront against cyberattacks from abroad by authorizing a State Department official to coordinate U.S. diplomatic strategy to combat cybercrime and establish a consistent foreign policy when it comes to cybercrime issues across relevant federal departments, agencies, U.S. embassies, and consulates. The measure would also require the State Department, for the first time, to clearly identify growing cyber threats and actors and develop a two-pronged strategy that would include potential sanctions against uncooperative governments and a boost in foreign aid to countries that need help thwarting attacks.
“These measures are a step in the right direction,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Cybercrime must be a top priority for our national security. If we’re going to protect our networks, our infrastructure, our economy and our families, we must go after cybercriminals wherever they may be – and it must be an international effort. America will be safer when we integrate cybercrime into our national security and foreign policy priorities, get tough on cybercrime globally, and coordinate with our partners in the international community.”
Establish Protocols to Combat CyberCrimes
Currently, there is no United States diplomatic protocol when it comes to combating cybercrimes. Gillibrand’s bill would authorize the Secretary of State to designate a senior official at the State Department to coordinate U.S. diplomatic engagement on international cyber issues and provide strategic direction in coordination with relevant Federal departments and agencies. These policies are aimed to prevent and respond to international cyberthreats, particularly those that impact U.S. foreign policy and national security. Officials at United States embassies and consulates would also be required to integrate and factor in cybersecurity in their bilateral and multilateral discussions.
Issue State Department Report to Congress
Within a year that this measure is signed into law, the State Department would be required to provide a comprehensive briefing to Congress on ways to crack down on international cybercriminals. The report would assess global trends of cybercriminal networks, and recommend strategies that would help countries prevent, investigate, and prosecute cybercrimes. The Secretary of State would update briefings periodically and would coordinate with private sector stakeholders.
Help Governments Combat CyberAttacks, Impose Sanctions on Uncooperative Countries
To help governments in need of combating cybercrime, the State Department would prioritize foreign assistance programs. For countries that allow cyberattacks to take place, or do not enforce laws against cybercriminals, the State Department could make recommendations on imposing potential sanctions or restricting, suspending or withdrawing foreign assistance.
The comprehensive cybersecurity bill will likely reach the Senate floor for a vote by this month’s end.
In August 2011, Senators Gillibrand and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act – bipartisan legislation that takes aggressive action to combat cybercrime against America and foster cooperation with other countries.