Boehnke ransomware protection bill unanimously approved by House

Last year, Washington businesses, agencies and other entities experienced more ransomware attacks than ever before. According to the Attorney General's 2021 Data Breach Report, which was released in November, ransomware attacks accounted for 61% of all cyberattacks (150 of 245) and more than half of all data breaches (150 of 280).

Ransomware is a unique type of malware (malicious software developed by cybercriminals) that holds data hostage
in hopes of receiving a ransom payment from the breached entity. It's a problem Rep. Matt Boehnke, R-Kennewick, is seeking to address through House Bill 2044. The bill, which was unanimously approved by the state House on Friday, would do the following:

  • Require the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) to design, develop, and implement enterprise technology standards for malware and ransomware protection, backup, and recovery.
  • Require the OCIO to establish a ransomware education and outreach program to educate employees of public agencies on the prevention, response, and remediation of ransomware.
  • Require certain state agencies to perform an assessment of their applications and resources containing data and provide the OCIO with a confidential list of prioritized applications based on mission criticality and impact to constituents in the event of system failure or data loss.
  • Require various reporting by the OCIO on information relating to mission critical applications, business essential applications, the status of immutable backups for each application, and the breadth of threat landscape.

Boehnke, who serves as the director and lead professor of the cybersecurity division at Columbia Basin College, says House Bill 2044 would meet an urgent need following last year's startling increase in ransomware attacks.

“Ransomware is a growing threat that is wreaking havoc on individuals, businesses and agencies in Washington state,” said Boehnke. “Last year, we saw more ransomware attacks against our citizens than we had seen in the five previous years combined. This is a crisis that requires immediate action and effective solutions. We must do a better job thwarting cybercriminals and safeguarding Washingtonians' personal data. House Bill 2044 represents a positive step forward for our state, and I'm glad it received unanimous approval by the House tonight.”

House Bill 2044 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.


Washington State House Republican Communications