Gov. DeSantis Signs New Cybersecurity Laws For Florida - It's Illegal To Carry Out Ransom Attacks And To Pay Ransoms

Toby Hazlewood

Florida doesn't negotiate with cyber criminals
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at USFScreenshot from YouTube

With the passing of July 1, almost 150 new laws took effect in Florida that had been signed by Governor Ron DeSantis. Included amongst those are new laws in relation to cyber crime, which were described in the cybersecurity bill - HB7055.

The bill contains many provisions but many of these relate to ransomware attacks - where criminals take control of private or business computers and then demand the payment of a ransom to release these systems back to their owner.

Florida's new laws not only clarify that those who commit such crimes will be liable for fines and other penalties, but also - and most interestingly - that the payment of such ransoms is also prohibited.

It's a clear sign that Florida doesn't negotiate or deal with cyber criminals and is likely intended as a deterrent to commit such crimes.

Florida investing in cybersecurity professionals

The new law takes effect in Florida just days after Governor DeSantis also announced a significant investment in education and training for high school and college students in Florida to increase the number of trained cybersecurity professionals within the state.

$15.6 million of state funds have been invested in cybersecurity training and education - allocated out of the state's $109.9 billion 'Freedom First' budget with the intention of creating as many as 27,000 new, highly-paid jobs in cybersecurity over the coming years.

Cybercrime is on the rise

A study by the University of Maryland suggests that a new cybercrime occurs every 39 seconds within the United States. It's estimated that one in three Americans will be a victim of cybercrime every year, whether that's having their password stolen, an account hacked or a more severe online theft of money or aspects of their identity.

In 2021, Americans across the nation witnessed the impacts of large-scale cyberattacks when the Colonial oil and gas pipeline was hacked, causing the pipeline to be shut down until a $5 million ransom had been paid. The hack caused a temporary shortage of gasoline across the U.S. after supplies shut down and motorists started panic-buying fuel.

In Florida, Governor DeSantis used his powers to declare a state of emergency over the pipeline hacking. His actions in 2021 demonstrate the severity of such attacks and the power that hackers have to force compliance and create mayhem if victims can be forced to comply.

It remains to be seen whether the new laws introduced in Florida this month will help to deter cyberattacks and help keep Florida's businesses and citizens safe from attack.

Have you ever been a victim of cybercrime? Do you know what to do in the event that you're targeted by a hacker or cybercriminal? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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