Lawmakers demand answers about DHS cybersecurity breaches

Letter to DHS CIO Charbo and CISO West

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Members of Congress are demanding more answers about the Homeland Security Department’s cybersecurity weaknesses.

Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) sent a letter to DHS Chief Information Officer Scott Charbo and Chief Information Security Officer Robert West asking about specific events and intrusions that occurred at the agency.

They wanted to know whether several serious information technology security incidents occurred, including whether hacking tools found their way onto agency computers, malicious code affected DHS networks and infected computers transmitted information outside department networks.

The letter also inquires about four unspecified incidents that occurred in August and September 2006. The congressmen want Charbo and West to respond by Aug. 27.

The letter comes after a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity and Science and Technology Subcommittee, where DHS reported that 844 cybersecurity-related incidents occurred in 2005 and 2006.

Charbo testified at the hearing that the agency was already fixing many of those problems. Committee members, including Thompson and Langevin, were not convinced and accused him of not taking his job seriously.

“In light of all of the evidence in front of us, I think the first thing that Mr. Charbo needs to do is explain to us why he should keep his job,” Thompson said.

In late June, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) sent a similar letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff about the management of cybersecurity incidents. Chertoff has not responded.


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