Proposed legislation advancing in two states reclassifies ransomware as a felony.
Proposed legislation advancing in two states reclassifies ransomware as a felony.

Legislation aimed at countering cybercrime, including ransomware, is advancing toward the governor's desk in both Indiana and Texas.

In Indiana, a new bill seeks to upgrade ransomware attacks to a category of its own, punishable with a sentence from one to six years in prison, and a maximum fine of up to $10,000, according to Bleeping Computer.

House Bill 1444 is scheduled to be presented on Tuesday to the state Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee.

Current law upholds ransomware as a misdemeanor and classifies it within existing mandates defining unauthorized access to a computer. The proposed legislation recategorizes unauthorized access to a computer as a Level 6 felony (6 months to 2.5 years in prison, fine up to $10,000), the report stated.

In cases where an attack blocks computer users from accessing their files (ransomware attack) and/or causes damages of more than $50,000, the penalty expands to a Level 5 felony (one to six years in prison, fine up to $10,000).

Wyoming and California already have such definitions for ransomware on their books, while most other states categorize ransomware attacks under existing hacking laws.

At the same time, Texas State Representative Giovanni Capriglione has introduced two bills that would create a state task force while meting out harsher penalties for cybercrimes, according to a report on CBS Austin.

The proposed House Bill 8, The Texas Cybersecurity Act, would gain the Lone Star State a task force to share cyber information and seek out loopholes bad actors are employing, the report stated. It would also require state agencies to report when information has been breached.

The legislation also seeks to gain funding for programs that provide security training for workers at state agencies, as well as institute third-party audits of the agency's security risks every five years. As well, HB8 would examine election integrity and the vulnerabilities in election infrastructure.

Capriglione's other proposed bill, House Bill 9, focuses on the criminal justice aspect of cybercrimes. Right now, he said, the state is fighting 21st century crimes with 20th century tools.

The Texas legislation would reclassify ransomware with both felony and misdemeanor offenses for those and similar tactics.

The two bills in Texas are scheduled for a hearing next week.