As the U.S. Senate this week considers a significant Ukrainian aid package, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) announced on Sunday that they will introduce a bipartisan amendment creating a law enforcement partnership between the United States and Ukraine to combat cybercrime and improve cybersecurity.
Ukraine has long been considered an international haven for hackers, and last year’s massive data breach affecting millions of U.S. customers of Target and other leading American retailers has been traced to cybercrime syndicates operating in Ukraine.
The Warner/Kirk Amendment would require U.S.-Ukraine bilateral talks on cybercrime cooperation, establish a standing senior-level working group to conduct regular dialogue on cybercrime, explore opportunities to build-up Ukraine’s capacity to combat cybercrime in cooperation with American and European law enforcement agencies, and develop improved extradition procedures between the U.S. and Ukraine.
“Internet security experts tell us Ukraine is home to some of the world’s most sophisticated cyber criminals, and the previous Ukrainian government routinely turned a blind eye to cybercrime,” Sen. Warner said. “As the United States works to support this new Ukrainian government and as the Senate considers this significant Ukrainian aid package, we have an excellent opportunity to create new structures of cooperation that will better protect American consumers and businesses by working together to crack down on international cyber crime.”
“Our nation is one of the most frequently targeted countries for major cybercrimes and data breaches, accounting for nearly half of the $11 billion of losses on payment cards worldwide,” Sen. Kirk said. “Ukraine is a known hub for cybercrime, and the United States should work with the Ukrainian government to create a framework of cooperation to deter, prevent and counter these cyber criminals and ensure the safety of the newly formed Ukrainian government and financial system.
Internet security experts say many Russian hackers have gravitated to digital crime syndicates based in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian city of Odessa is reputed to be home to the world’s largest online marketplace for stolen credit and debit card data. Sen. Warner, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee’s National Security and International Trade and Finance Subcommittee, and Sen. Kirk led the first congressional hearing into last year’s credit and debit card data breaches involving Target and other retailers.
The Warner/Kirk Amendment to S.2124, the Ukraine aid bill, proposes the following:
1) The U.S. must initiate a round of formal U.S.-Ukraine bilateral talks on cybercrime cooperation with additional multilateral talks that include other law enforcement partners such as Europol and Interpol.
2) The U.S. should establish a standing senior-level working group to conduct regular dialogue on cybercrime concerns and share best practices between law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Ukraine.
3) The U.S. should establish a capacity-building program with Ukraine by sending fbi agents to aid Ukrainian investigations, and improve communication networks to expedite and improve law enforcement cooperation.
4) The U.S. should develop improved extradition procedures. The U.S. and Ukraine currently do not have an extradition treaty, which makes Ukraine fertile ground for those seeking to operate international criminal activities.