Congress examining ways to try to prevent ransomware attacks and protect your information

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ransomware attacks are more advanced and targeting schools, hospitals, financial services, and even local governments.


Now federal lawmakers are exploring ways to try to prevent these attacks.

“The ransom note stated that all data on all devices and servers was encrypted including our backup systems,” said Dr. Lacey Gosch, assistant superintendent of technology for Judson Independent School District in Texas.

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Dr. Gosch leads the technology department for a school district in Texas. During a recent congressional hearing, she told lawmakers that a 2021 cyberattack on the district cost them $547,000 in ransom. She added the breach also affected more than 400,000 people.

Now she’s urging Congress to provide more support to help school systems facing these same threats.

“We learned that the Calvary does not come and must rely on our own resources. No state or federal agency ever visited or offered recovery assistance to us,” said Dr. Gosch. “Insurance coverage was helpful but those go predominately to attorney fees, data mining and identity protection. It doesn’t cover ransom payments or costs for upgrades to mitigate that damage.”

Cybersecurity experts warn ransomware attacks are also becoming more expensive. That’s because they say hackers are demanding money in exchange for agreeing to not sell or share the stolen information.

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“The actors have increased access to technical capabilities, anonymous payment systems, and safe havens from which to operate,” said Grant Schneider, senior director of cybersecurity services at Venable, LLP.

Some democrats believe investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help make a difference.

“Providing more than a billion dollars in vital investment to help both private and public entities who fall victim to cyberattacks,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly, (D) Virginia.

While some Republicans want to develop better ways for federal law enforcement agencies to collect and share information about these hackers and their attacks.

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“The bottom line is it’s too easy today for malicious actors to do too much damage and make too much money with too few consequences” said Rep. Nancy Mace, (R) South Carolina.

Some school leaders also want Congress to establish new standards for protecting social security numbers in all systems.

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