This Monday, the governor of Michigan approved two bills introduced by the state legislators to deter the ongoing prevalence of ransomware attacks. Both of the bills were formulated to severely criminalize ransomware and associated activities. According to the new cyber legislation of Michigan, any person possessing ransomware can be punished to up to three years of jail time as per the nature and extent of his activity.
Initially the lawmakers wanted to set 10 year prison time for ransomware offences. However, after several discussions on the floor, it was cut down to three years. According to the main sponsor of the Bill, House rep. Brandt Iden, these bills were introduced to fix a legislative ambiguity where law can only punish perpetrators for introducing ransomware, but not for owning it.
As per the new bill, any arrested cyber criminal can end up in jail if a ransomware is found in his possession whether it was used to infect any system or not. Both the bills received overwhelming support from the both houses of the state’s parliament.
Experts think that it will make it easier for law enforcement agencies to chase down the alleged cyber criminals involved in the development of ransomware codes and their affiliates. Some are also hopeful that the criminalization of ransomware possession will also help in curbing the burgeoning business of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS).
Felony of ransomware possession will be treated like any other crime where prosecutors have to prove the false intent of the alleged individual before charging him for ransomware possession.
Moreover, Michigan lawmakers have put some thought while devising the bills unlike their Georgian counterparts and allows the possession of ransomware by security experts for research works. Aside from performing ransomware repairs, it seems like digital security experts will now also help the state to prove the malicious intent of cyber criminals caught with ransomware.
According to the statistics furnished by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2017 individuals and enterprises in Michigan experienced more than 1,300 ransomware attacks resulted in the losses of $2.6 million including ransomware repairs.
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