Ruppersberger Introduces Bill to Protect American Businesses

By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON – Rep. C.A Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, and Republican committee Chairman Mike Rogers announced legislation Wednesday that would allow the government to share classified information on potential cyber attacks with American businesses.

The bipartisan bill would give the National Security Agency and other federal agencies new authority to share intelligence with companies that have been vetted and certified by the government.

“We simply can’t stand by if we have the ability to help American companies protect themselves,” said Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat. “Sharing information about cyber threats is a critical step to preventing them.”

Rogers described “an economic cyber war going on today against U.S. companies.”

“There are two types of companies in this country: Those who know they’ve been hacked, and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked,” the Michigan Republican said. “Economic predators, including nation-states, are blatantly stealing business secrets and innovation from private companies.”

Officials say government and private computer networks are under constant attack by countries such as China, Russia and by private hackers.

In one recent local case, a Hungarian citizen pleaded guilty in federal court last week to transmitting a malicious code to Marriott International Corp. computers and threatening to reveal confidential information from the Bethesda-based company’s computers if he was not offered a job maintaining the network.

According to the plea agreement, Atilla Nemeth sent Marriott an email last year containing attachments that included confidential information that had been stored on company computers.

Nemeth, 26, said that he had sent an infected email attachment to specific Marriott employees in order to install malicious software that gave him a back door into the company network.

Ruppersberger described the legislation as a “good start toward helping the private sector safeguard its intellectual property and critical cyber networks” – including those that power the nation’s electrical, water and banking systems.