U.S. Senators Want Transparency on Senate Cyberattacks

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U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Tom Cotton believe all senators should receive information on successful cyberattacks aimed at the Senate.

In a letter sent this week to the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms, Michael C. Stenger, Wyden and Cotton have asked that each senator be provided an annual report containing information on the number of cyber incidents that involved compromised Senate computers or illegally accessed sensitive data.

They also want Senate leadership and members of the Committees on Rules and Intelligence to be informed of any breach within five days of discovery.

“Each U.S. Senator deserves to know, and has a responsibility to know, if and how many times Senate computers have been hacked, and whether the Senate’s existing cybersecurity measures are sufficient to protect both the integrity of this institution and the sensitive data with which it has been entrusted,” the letter reads.

“We understand that details of specific incidents may need to remain confidential, however, providing Senators with aggregate statistics about successful cyberattacks would enable the Senate to engage in informed debate about the security threats faced by the legislative branch and consequently, the need for the Senate to fund, prioritize, and conduct aggressive oversight over its own cybersecurity,” it adds.

Wyden and Cotton have pointed out that while Senate is considered a prime target of threat actors, and state-sponsored groups have been known to breach government systems in recent years, no information has been made public about any successful attacks on Congress systems since 2009.

In a letter he sent last year to Senate leaders, Wyden warned that foreign government hackers had been targeting personal email accounts belonging to senators and their aides, and blamed the Senate’s security office for refusing to protect them.

Related: Senators Concerned Over DHS Employees Using Foreign VPNs

Related: Senators Concerned About State Department’s Cybersecurity Failures

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

Previous Columns by Eduard Kovacs:
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