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Schumer seeks to combat ‘ransomware’

WASHINGTON – “Ransomware” – malware that locks up a computer and all its data until a ransom is paid – has come to infect systems at some small governments in Upstate New York, and Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday that the federal government has to act to stop it from happening.

During a conference call with reporters, Schumer said he is asking the Obama administration to focus on fighting ransomware under its newly announced Cybersecurity National Action Plan. In addition, Schumer called for a full $3.1 billion in funding for the federal government’s proposed Information Technology Modernization Fund, and called on Congress to create a separate, similar fund that could provide state and local governments with grants to improve their technology.

“Our country’s critical infrastructure is still far too vulnerable to hackers, and we must do more – and fast – to ward off this metastasizing threat,” he said. “Russia’s recent ransomware hacks against municipalities and businesses in Upstate New York mean those in our small towns and villages are being forced to pay a big price.”

Schumer said that the town of Ilion, in Herkimer County, was forced to pay $800 to hackers to regain control of its computers. A similar attack occurred in March in the Town of Manlius, but the town’s IT Department was able to thwart the attack by shutting down the computer system before hackers could infect it.