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#comptia | #ransomware | Let’s make ransomware MORE illegal, says Maryland – Naked Security


The oft-attacked city of Baltimore not only uses mind-bogglingly bad data storage. Its home state, Maryland, also knows how to swiftly propose mind-bogglingly bad legislation that would outlaw possession of ransomware and put researchers in jeopardy of prosecution.

It is, of course, already a crime to use the data/systems-paralyzing malware in a way that costs victims money, but proposed legislation, Senate Bill 30, would criminalize mere possession.

It’s not supposed to keep researchers from responsibly researching or disclosing vulnerabilities, but like other, similar “let’s make malware more illegal” bills before it, SB 30’s attempts to protect researchers could “use a little more work,” as pointed out by Ars Technica‘s Sean Gallagher.

It covers much of the same ground as does Federal law, but SB 30 would take it a step further by labelling the mere possession of ransomware as a misdemeanor that would carry a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

The draft could get yet more draconian still: Earlier this month, members of the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee said they’d actually prefer to make the crime a felony, according to Capital News Service.

The problematic outlawing of “unauthorized access”

Besides mere possession of ransomware, the bill would outlaw unauthorized, intentional access or attempts to access…

…all or part of a computer network, computer control language, computer, computer software, computer system, computer service, or computer database; or copy, attempt to copy, possess, or attempt to possess the contents of all or part of a computer database accessed.

It would also criminalize acts intended to “cause the malfunction or interrupt the operation of all or any part” of a computer, the network it’s running on, and their software/operating system/data. Also verboten: intentional, willful, unauthorized possession or attempts to identify a valid access code, or publication or distribution of valid access codes to unauthorized people.

Where does that leave researchers? Partially protected by a thin blanket that doesn’t protect them from liability, experts say.

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