Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., want to help law enforcement crack down on botnets, which harness "innocent" computers to automatically transmit viruses, according to a report from The Hill.
The senators introduced a bill last week after a previous iteration failed to make it into the cybersecurity bill passed in late 2015.
- The bill would give law enforcement agencies and courts expanded authority to combat a broader array of botnets.
There is growing concern about viruses that can infect computers and go unnoticed for years. In April, a botnet that forced approximately 4,000 Linux computers to spew spam onto the Internet for more than a year was finally stopped.
"This bill will arm law enforcement and our courts with tools to help fight back and better protect Americans from cybercrime," Whitehouse said in a statement. "Cybercriminals can wield these armies of zombie computers to carry out all manner of criminal activity—from pillaging private data, to shutting down businesses’ websites, to attacking critical infrastructure."
Currently the Department of Justice can only pursue botnets involved in fraud or illegal wiretapping. The agency can’t, however, go after botnets involved in destruction of data or DDoS attacks. The proposed legislation could change that, and would also make the act of selling or providing access to botnets a criminal offense.