CA lawmakers get step toward outlawing 'ransomware'

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 2:38 AM

The legislation, which would call for hackers using ransomware to be prosecuted below a statute similar to extortion but geared specifically to cyber crime, easily cleared the state senate'south public safety committee.

CA lawmakers on Tuesday took a major step toward outlawing the utilize of so-called "ransomware" to hijack computers for money, passing a bill through its first committee with the support of law enforcement.

The legislation, which would call for hackers using ransomware to be prosecuted below a statute similar to extortion but geared specifically to cyber crime, easily cleared the state senate'south public safety committee.

Senate Bill one thousand one hundred thirty-seven moves following to that body'south appropriations committee. It should be approved by both houses of the CA legislature and be signed by Gov Jerry Brown to become law.

A spokesman for the measure'south author, state Senator Bob Hertzberg, said the measure, which was co-sponsored by the LA County District Attorney'south Office, had been met with tiny opposition so far.

"We don't foresee any problems with the bill, it seems to be getting very powerful support," said Andrew LaMar, communications director for Hertzberg, a Democrat.

Authorities declare ransomware attacks, in which hackers utilize malicious software to lock up data in computers and leave messages demanding payment have surged this year.

More than $209 million in ransomware payments were made in the United States alone during the first three months of two thousand sixteen, according to FBI statistics cited by Hertzberg's office.

In March, Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in LA paid a ransom of $17.000 to regain access to its systems.

LA prosecutors, in a letter to the state senate'south public safety committee, said that the bill was needed because current extortion laws aren't well tailored toward prosecuting ransomware attacks.

While such attacks have been around longer than a decade, security experts declare they've become distant more threatening and prevalent in recent years because of state-of-the-art encryption, modules that infect backup systems, and the skill to infect large numbers of computers over a single network.

Run-of-the-mill ransomware attacks typically seek one bitcoin, presently worth about $420, which is about the same as the hourly rate that some security consultants charge to reply to such incidents, according to security firms who inquire into ransomware cases.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb,; extra reporting Jim Finkle in Boston; edting by Andrew Hay)

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