Senators say plan would help fight against cyber-attacks


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — In a time when cyber-security is under attack, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are scrambling to find new ways to beef up security.

Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters and Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman said it’s time for the U.S. to strengthen its defense from the bottom up.

“What the attackers look for is the weakest link. Our job has to be to strengthen these weakest links,” Peters said.

The senators are working to pass a plan that would boost communication between local governments and the Department of Homeland Security.

“The federal government should be doing this anyway,” Portman said.

They say it will give local agencies a chance to exchange valuable tips and information needed to fight off attacks.

“It’s going to be a long-standing relationship, it’s going to be a robust relationship,” Peters said.

A 2016 survey shows nearly a third of cities have outdated technology.

Increasingly, foreign hackers are targeting businesses and local governments across the country and holding their computer systems hostage.

“These attacks are occurring as we speak,” Peters said.

Last month, Baltimore suffered $18 million in damages after hackers seized its systems.

Just this week, the town of Riviera Beach, Florida agreed to pay nearly $600,000 in ransom after a similar attack.

Portman says these breaches pose a significant threat to public safety.

“Think of our electricity system, think of our utilities,” Portman said. “We need to be working together in a coordinated way.”

They expect the plan to pass the Senate soon. It will then move on to the House.

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