recommended reading

Hacked lawmaker calls for cyber briefings

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., told House leaders Tuesday that few members of Congress have availed themselves of secret briefings meant to educate them about outsiders trying to penetrate lawmakers' computers and steal sensitive information.

Despite "repeated assurances" that the House leadership would inform members of Congress about threats to their computer systems and personal electronic devices, members are still at risk of being hacked by foreign and domestic sources, Wolf wrote in a letter [PDF] sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders, which was obtained by National Journal. In September of last year, the Republican and Democratic caucuses held classified briefings for lawmakers about cyber risks, but "the meetings were sparsely attended," Wolf wrote. "I fear that Members are no better informed today than they were before."

Because so few members showed up, Wolf wants to require mandatory briefings. He has proposed including language to that effect in the rules package set to be adopted Tuesday during the first meeting of the new Congress. Wolf suggested that the meetings address "threats to House information security, threats to information security when members travel abroad, and measure being taken [to] secure House computer networks and electronic devices."

Last year, Wolf announced that his office's computers had been compromised by sources he believes reside in China. Seven other members' office computers, as well as those in eight committee offices, were infected with a virus designed to covertly remove files and track what a user writes in e-mail or text messages. After the electronic break-ins, Wolf said that few of his colleagues understood that sensitive information contained on their computers was accessible to outsiders.

"This is a serious issue, and we have got to have bipartisan participation," said Daniel Scandling, Wolf's chief of staff. "If someone physically broke into a member's office and took something, people would be up in arms. But we're turning a blind eye to information being swiped off of computers."

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.