- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2018

The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation Thursday directing the president to name and shame foreign hackers accused of helping countries conduct cyberattacks against the U.S.

Introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho, Florida Republican, the Cyber Deterrence and Response Act of 2018 would let the government sanction individuals involved in waging state-sponsored cyberattacks against the U.S. and publish their names in the Federal Register.

The bill was introduced in April and garnered bipartisan support from 11 co-sponsors prior to being advanced out of committee Thursday morning by unanimous consent, putting it on path for a potential vote in the full House once lawmakers return from July Fourth recess.

“China, North Korea, Iran, Russia and other malicious actors have developed sophisticated capabilities that can disrupt our networks, endanger our critical infrastructure, harm our economy and undermine our elections. These cyber attacks must be stopped,” Mr. Yoho said Thursday. “The bill will help spotlight adherence to international norms and deterrence to heighten the cost on countries or their subordinates that hack the United States.”

“Malicious cyber activity by foreign governments, including especially Russia, China and North Korea, cannot be tolerated,” agreed Foreign Affair Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican.

Specifically the bill would let the president designate “critical cyber threat actors” – foreigners “responsible for or complicit in, or have engaged in, directly or indirectly, state-sponsored cyber activities that are reasonably likely to result in, or have contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States.”

Designated threat actors would subsequently be subject to penalties including financial and travel sanctions, potentially putting suspected state-sponsored hackers at risk of being barred from visiting the U.S. or doing business with American entities.

The bill would allow the president waive sanctions on a case-by-case basis, however, either if a waiver is considered to be of economic or national security interest, or if a waiver would help law enforcement proceedings or serve a humanitarian purpose.

Mr. Yoho’s bill passed committee as cybersecurity concerns linger on Capitol Hill in the wake of U.S. intelligence officials concluding that Russia conducted a multi-pronged attack on the 2016 presidential race conducted partially by government hackers. Officials have since warned that Moscow risks meddling in the November 2018 midterms, and other countries have begun “adapting and improving on Russia’s methodology,” career ambassador Victoria Nuland warned Congress last week.

“Russia’s efforts to interfere our 2016 election was only the beginning, as we’ve heard from our intelligence community that serious threats remain,” said Rep. Brad Schneider, Illinois Democrat. “Our government must do more to protect our election infrastructure and seek to ensure the integrity of every citizens’ vote.”

“This is not just a Russia problem,” added Rep. Brad Sherman, California Democrat and ranking member of the panel’s Asia subcommittee. “I’m pleased that this bill does focus on the way that states including Russia have sought to undermine our electoral system, and that is bipartisan issue, not just an issue of one party. No American wants to see Russia influencing our elections, particularly through illegal and hidden measures,” he said Thursday.

Chinese state-sponsored hackers compromised a U.S. Navy contractor earlier this year and stole troves of sensitive military intelligence, The Washington Post reported earlier this month. Other high-profile cybersecurity breaches including hacks suffered by Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Las Vegas Sands Hotel and Casino have been blamed on threat actors from North Korea and Iran, respectively.

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