The threat cyber criminals pose to our computer-dependent world cannot be overstated. Our society benefits greatly from Internet technology, whether we use it to pay bills, monitor our health or communicate with friends, family or government agencies.
However, those benefits come with risks which must be addressed. That’s why I introduced Assembly Bill 1649, which creates a new crime in statute to address increasing incidents of illegal access to communication systems and websites of governments, schools and hospitals.
Cyber criminals often target government computer systems, resulting in interference, tampering and theft of personal information. Numerous incidents have occurred that compromised privacy and safety of thousands of individuals. In 2013, a caller to a San Diego hospital using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology shut down the emergency room’s phone line in an extortion attempt. For nearly 48 hours ambulance services and patients’ families calling the hospital received constant busy signals. At CSU Sacramento, an employee website was also recently compromised, opening the door to the theft of 1,800 employee Driver’s License and Social Security numbers.
I am happy to report that Assembly Bill 1649, which passed both houses of the Legislature with unanimous support, was signed into law by Governor Brown on September 17. It is my hope that this legislation will provide another important tool in the fight to maintain the integrity of government computer systems, along with the well-being, personal privacy and security of the public they serve.