Senator says his office computers were hacked

Three lawmakers are writing a bill designed to expand the cybersecurity workforce and bolster collaboration between the public and private sectors. Authors include Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who said his office’s computers have been hacked on several occasions.

Nelson announced March 20 that he is working with Sens. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to draft the legislation. Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said during a hearing before that committee March 19 that the bill would seek to increase the cybersecurity workforce.

Experts continue to debate what new laws and regulations are needed to improve cybersecurity. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is more than halfway done with a 60-day review of the country’s cybersecurity efforts.

In addition, the administration has pledged to appoint a national cyber adviser to coordinate federal agency efforts and the development of a national cyber policy. That person would report directly to the president, according to the administration’s homeland security platform.

In a statement, Nelson said the senators’ bill would:

  • Create a permanent national cybersecurity position that would report directly to the president.
  • Require intelligence and homeland security officials to perform vulnerability assessments.
  • Establish a clearinghouse so the government and private sector could share information on cyber threats and vulnerabilities.
  • Fund scholarships to expand the cybersecurity workforce.

Nelson said computers used by three of his staff members were recently targeted in multiple attacks, but the hackers, who are believed to be in China, could not access any classified information.

One of attacks looked "pretty serious, and it [was] talking to a computer in some international arena,” Nelson said during the March 19 hearing.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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