Senators introduced this legislation in response to the day-long outage the 988 Lifeline experienced from a cyber attack
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) introduced the 9-8-8 Lifeline Cybersecurity Responsibility Act to strengthen the cybersecurity protocols at the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, also known as the 988 Lifeline, in response to the day-long outage the Lifeline experienced in December 2022.
“Arizonans in crisis and need of help should always be able to count on the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. We’re working to ensure last year’s cyber attack on the 988 Lifeline does not happen again so Arizonans can continue to rely on the hotline for help,” said Sinema.
“Increasing cybersecurity measures for the 988 Lifeline is imperative to suicide prevention,” said Mullin. “Every life lost to suicide is one too many, and it’s critical that those experiencing a mental health crisis have resources and support available when they need it the most. I am proud to join Senator Sinema on this important bipartisan bill.”
The cyberattack on the 988 Lifeline exposed vulnerabilities in the 988 system and individuals who tried to call the suicide prevention hotline were instead greeted with a recorded message informing them of the service outage.
Sinema and Mullin’s legislation requires coordination between the Lifeline and the Chief Information Security Officer at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent cybersecurity attacks and eliminate known vulnerabilities. The suicide hotline’s network administrator would also be required to notify the government of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and incidents within 24 hours of discovery. Lastly, the Government Accountability Office would be required to conduct a study evaluating cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities in the 988 system.
Click HERE for bill text.
Any person across the country in crisis and in need of help can dial 9-8-8 to reach free and confidential professional support 24/7 or can visit 988lifeline.org/chat/ to start a free and confidential conversation. Click HERE to learn more about the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.