DOJ also moving in on cybersecurity threats

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday it will go after federal contractors that fail to report cybersecurity incidents to the U.S. government.

“Today, we are launching a Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at the virtual Aspen Institute Cyber Summit. “For too long, companies have chosen silence under the mistaken belief that it’s less risky to hide a breach than to bring it forward and to report it. Well, that changes today.”

Money on the line: Monaco said the initiative will allow the Justice Department to use its authorities under the False Claims Act to fine government contractors that “fail to follow required cybersecurity standards.”

“We are going to go after that behavior and extract very hefty fines, so this is a tool that we have to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used appropriately and to guard the public trust, and that is what we are going to do with respect to this civil fraud initiative,” Monaco said.

She added that protections will be provided to whistleblowers who report violations of federal cybersecurity standards by government contractors.

New effort on crypto: In addition, Monaco on Wednesday announced that the Justice Department will establish a National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team in an effort to “dismantle” cryptocurrency exchanges that are often used by hackers to facilitate ransomware payments by victims.