Massachusetts lawmakers to hold cybersecurity hearing

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BOSTON (AP) — How best to improve cybersecurity across the state will be the focus of a public hearing at the Massachusetts Statehouse this week.

The Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet and Cybersecurity will hold the virtual hearing on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

The hearing will be chaired by Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover and Rep. Linda Dean Campbell of Methuen, both Democrats, and will including testimony from a range of cybersecurity experts including state officials and representatives from Oracle, Google, Microsoft, Comcast, and the cybersecurity firm VMWare.

The hearing follows several cyberattacks in Massachusetts and throughout the country. A malware attack forced the state’s auto inspection system to shut down for nearly three weeks in the spring, and cities and towns across Massachusetts continue to face the challenge of combatting cyber threats, Finegold said.

According to FBI data, residents in Massachusetts lost around $100 million from reported cybercrimes in 2020 alone, Finegold said.

“Over the past year, dangerous cyberattacks have disrupted critical infrastructure, health care organizations, municipal governments, school districts, and local businesses,” Finegold said in written statement. “We need to get smart and take proactive measures to ensure that our online platforms are safe and secure.”

Among the topics to be discussed during the hearing is whether there should be a required baseline of cyber standards in the public and private sectors, how can the state encourage the adoption of better cybersecurity protocols, how can cryptocurrencies be regulated to limit ransomware attacks and how can the commonwealth develop a robust statewide cybersecurity strategy.

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The hearing will also look at how the state should use a potential influx of federal cybersecurity funding, including a proposed $1 billion cybersecurity grant program included in the U.S. Senate’s infrastructure bill.

“The cyber threats against our commonwealth’s public, private, and nonprofit sectors demand urgent attention from our Legislature,” Campbell said. “Local governments and Massachusetts businesses have already faced a number of serious cyber attacks.”

The hearing will be livestreamed on the Legislature’s website.

First published on: AP

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