Reps. Cartwright and Hanna Introduce Bipartisan Legislation After Major Federal Government Data Breach
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced the bipartisan A Necessary and Targeted Impediment to Viruses Act (ANTI Virus).
The ANTI Virus Act requires hacked government agencies that lose control over personally identifiable information to provide victims with personal licenses for one year’s worth of antivirus software to help protect them from subsequent, related attacks. The recent breaches of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) are only the latest compromises of federal networks. These attacks can have devastating effects; current estimates claim nearly 18 million current and former federal employees’ identity, background and Social Security information may have been compromised.
To date, the most common response to government data breaches has been to offer victims at most 18 months-worth of credit monitoring. While this service is important, it does not protect against further infiltrations of personal networks that are more likely to occur once an individual’s personal data has been obtained.
While the attacker’s ultimate goals are often unknown, their possession of victims’ sensitive information increases the possibility and severity of a subsequent attacks via a method known as “spear phishing.” This tactic involves sending targeted email messages crafted to appear like something they would expect from someone they know and trust, enticing them to open the message and infecting their computer with viruses known as “malware.” Once compromised, hackers can steal bank account, email, travel dates and other private information, subjecting the victim to yet more attacks and our national security to new threats.
“The personal information of 25 million federal employees is potentially compromised. These contractors exist due to the largesse of the Federal government,” Rep. Cartwright said. “We are concerned about the security and the safety not only of Federal employees but of the U.S. public. We need a more proactive defense against cyberattacks.”
“The recent data breaches at OPM and other government agencies have placed federal employees at an increased risk of phishing attacks, which jeopardizes our national security,” Rep. Hanna said. “Providing these employees with adequate safeguards to protect themselves against viruses is a critical step in ensuring sensitive data is not further exposed.”