Lawmakers Want Answers on FDIC Data Breaches and Stingrays


And a new bill pushes for the naming and shaming of foreign hackers and government officials who attack the U.S.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation misled its congressional overseers about the seriousness of eight information security breaches during late 2015 and early 2016, according to an inspector general report and congressional letter released Friday.

The breaches all stemmed from employees who left the FDIC during that period and improperly took information with them, according to the report. Seven of the employees took personally identifiable information, including Social Security numbers. The eighth took sensitive information about financial institutions.

In total, the breaches affected more than 10,000 individuals or records, the report found.

During the succeeding months, the FDIC delayed notifying Congress about the breaches and downplayed their seriousness, the inspectors said.

The letter from the House Science Committee demands to know who at FDIC has been held accountable for the failures, what their punishment was and how the agency is implementing IG recommendations.

Yoho Pushes Cyber Deterrence

A bill introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., Thursday would require the president to name, shame and often sanction foreign hackers and government officials who launch significant cyber strikes against the U.S.

The Cyber Deterrence and Response Act lays out an array of possible sanctions the president could apply and was endorsed by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and ranking member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., among other members, according to a Yoho press release.

“State-sponsored cyberattacks are increasing exponentially from China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia and it is vital that we take the necessary steps to thwart these potentially devastating attacks,” Yoho said in a statement.

Wyden Still on the Stingray Hunt

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wants more information from the Homeland Security Department about how foreign governments are using cellphone spying tools inside Washington D.C. and other U.S. cities.

The department acknowledged in a letter to Wyden last month that it had found the unauthorized devices, known as Stingrays, in Washington. The devices, which simulate cellphone towers, can track the location of particular phones and, in some cases, eavesdrop on conversations.

Wyden wants Homeland Security to release a PowerPoint presentation that’s currently marked “for official use only” and that provides additional details about how the devices were used, according to his letter to the department. The letter was also signed by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Edward Markey, D-Mass.

Fly the Cyber Skies

A bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, released earlier this month in the House, includes numerous mandates to improve the cybersecurity of plane and air traffic controls systems.

The bill requires the FAA to create a cyber testing system where the agency can test modernized air traffic control technology. It also mandates a new cyber research and development program at the agency.

The Senate Loves Bug Bounties, but DHS is Wary

The Senate passed a standalone bill Tuesday requiring a bug bounty program at the Homeland Security Department, but department officials aren’t thrilled about the idea.

The cash reward contest, which would task ethical hackers with finding vulnerabilities in Homeland Security websites, might duplicate digital bug hunting the department is already doing internally, officials told Nextgov. It also might cost more than the department can spare and open up legal liabilities, the officials said.

There’s a House version of the Hack DHS Act, but it hasn’t reached that chamber’s floor.

Thornberry Proposes Defense Agency Cuts

House Armed Services Committee Chair Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, proposed cutting seven Defense agencies—including the Defense Information Systems Agency—as part of a plan to reduce spending by 25 percent in the so-called “4th Estate.” The draft legislation would transfer the functions, personnel and assets to other agencies and reduce the number of chief information officers in the Senior Executive Service from approximately 60 to five.

Coming Up

There’s a lot coming up this week in Congress. Here’s a rundown:

Monday: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be the next secretary of state at 5 p.m.

Tuesday: The Senate Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing focused on mitigating the nation’s cybersecurity risk at 10 a.m.

Wednesday: At 3 p.m., the Senate Homeland Security Committee will consider the nomination of Chris Krebs, who’s currently acting undersecretary for Homeland Security’s cyber and infrastructure protection division, to hold the post permanently.

At 3:30 p.m., the Senate Small Business Committee will explore small business cybersecurity.

Thursday: The House Armed Services Committee will begin marking up the mammoth 2019 National Defense Authorization Act at 9 a.m.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will examine the Pentagon’s budget at 9:30 a.m.

At 10 a.m., the House Homeland Security Committee will pore through DHS’ budget request

At the same time, the House Oversight Committee will examine waste and duplication in the federal government discovered by the Government Accountability Office.

The Justice Department will face House Appropriators for a budget hearing at 10:30 a.m.

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