U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today announced that on July 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the growing wave of ransomware attacks affecting businesses, non-profits, and local governments across the nation. Durbin and Grassley have asked the Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to testify before the Committee to provide guidance and best practices on how businesses and organizations can protect themselves against ransomware attacks, how they should respond if they become victims, and what the Administration is doing to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these attacks.
“Our country has been victimized by ransomware attacks that have disrupted our economy and even put lives in danger. The Judiciary Committee will hear from witnesses responsible for leading the government’s efforts to prevent and defend against this threat. America deserves to be informed and protected from this recurring danger,” Durbin said.
“From pipelines to hospitals to elements of the food supply chain and even mom-and-pop shops, foreign hackers have extorted American industries and disrupted our daily lives. And it’s only gotten worse in recent months. I’m grateful that Chairman Durbin has agreed to hold this important hearing to shed more light on these attacks and discuss best practices for responding and deterring ransomware,” Grassley said.
In a typical ransomware attack, hackers break into a company’s or organization’s computer network and lock up the data, demanding payment to unlock it or to prevent the hackers from releasing the data publicly. U.S. companies and organizations are expected to endure over 65,000 ransomware attacks this year alone. Ransomware attacks disrupted the flow of gas and the supply of meat in the United States after the attacks on Colonial Pipeline and meat processing company JBS, and attacks on 560 health care facilities in 2020 put thousands of lives at risk and led to delays in patient treatment during the pandemic. In addition to ransomware attacks on businesses, in 2020 there also were nearly 2,400 ransomware attacks on state and local governments, health care facilities, and schools.