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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Reader comments

Thu, Mar 26, 2009 George

"It is clearly amazing to me that our elected officials continiously choose to pontificate over subject matter they neither understand nor have any knowledge and background to know much of anything about." Like you did just now? There are a number of bills being researched by congressional staffers and they are working with leading experts in our field. Time will tell whether they hit the mark. But to say they are legislating in a vacumn is revealing of your own lack of understanding.

Wed, Mar 25, 2009

It is clearly amazing to me that our elected officials continiously choose to pontificate over subject matter they neither understand nor have any knowledge and background to know much of anything about. Then they go off and pass laws based upon that ignorance.

Tue, Mar 24, 2009 Bon

The protection for their computers are a real key and protection should be set up. I don't know why the president needs to be the one monitoring this. Why don't they have someone or group that have highest clearance like the CIA doing the monitoring? I don't think our President needs access to all of Congress's computers. Are congressmen/women need to trust others besides just the President.

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