After breach, House plans new cybersecurity training
By Paul Kane
House leaders have asked the chamber's security officials to implement a new cybersecurity training regimen for aides and take additional measures to protect sensitive information from potential hackers.
Daniel P. Beard, the House's chief administrative officer, finished a six-week review, prompted by The Washington Post's disclosure of the ethics committee's secretive deliberations, by recommending several technology security updates. He offered a list of recommendations that focused mostly on making staff aware of the security risks on the Internet.
"Changes in security policies will make it clear that all sensitive House information will remain on House equipment at all times, it will be encrypted when stored on mobile devices and must not be transmitted on any public access system," Beard wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Pelosi and Boehner released Beard's recommendations Tuesday and asked him to begin implementing them as soon as possible.
Beard's review was prompted by an October breach of the House ethics committee, after a junior staffer took home with her a sensitive computer file that included a document that named every congressman the panel was investigating and included updates on most of the nearly three dozen investigations.
The staffer placed that file on a home computer on which she had downloaded peer-to-peer file-sharing software, commonly used by people who want to share music and other digital files. Doing so made the file available to others in the network. The Post obtained the file from a source who had no connection to Congress or any matter before the ethics committee.
The document listed nearly three dozen cases that were considered "investigative issues of significance" that were under review by the ethics committee or the new Office of Congressional Ethics, a new body that conducts preliminary probes and makes recommendations to the full committee. Many cases involved lawmakers whose ethics troubles had not been publicly revealed.
In addition to new training, Beard will force the House's internal wireless Internet service to be password protected. Any employee traveling outside the United States will have their government-issued wireless devices checked by House security before and after they travel abroad.
December 15, 2009; 7:20 PM ET
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