Durbin Delivers Opening Statement At Senate Judiciary Committee On Ransomware Attacks

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “America Under Cyber Siege: Preventing and Responding to Ransomware Attacks.” The hearing will examine the growing wave of ransomware attacks affecting businesses, non-profits, and local governments across the nation.

Key Quotes:

“It is about more than money and inconvenience. The harm of ransomware can affects real lives…Nearly every organization and industry is vulnerable. From hospitals, to school districts, local governments, non-profits, businesses big and small.”

“Though any person or entity can be targeted in a ransomware attack, it has been estimated that small businesses make up over half of the victims. And these attacks can have permanent damage. Last year, it took an average of nine months for a business to fully recover from a ransomware attack.”

“They’re becoming more frequent; more destructive. And the tools needed to commit them are easily accessible.”

“This is a criminal business model that is spreading.  If someone wants to commit an attack, they can easily purchase or lease ready-to-use ransomware. According to one expert, it is, ‘way too easy to get into this… you just hire it out. There’s been an incredible commoditization of the entire process.’ And I am concerned as well that ransomware criminals often operate with impunity in Russia and other nations. Those nations are often unwilling to prosecute or pursue the evil-doers.”

“We need new protocols for preventing and responding to ransomware attacks. The President understands it. His administration is taking a whole-of-government approach to prevent, deter, and respond. They recently launched a cross-government task force to coordinate offensive and defensive measures against these attacks—and to help businesses.”

“These efforts are welcome—because when it comes to ransomware, it’s not just our money that’s at stake. It’s sensitive information, a personal sense of security, and, truthfully, our nation’s security. It’s a critical challenge and this Committee will do its part to meet it—starting with today’s hearing.”

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

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.