Congress

Lieu, Hurd alert members on cyber hygiene

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas)

Capitol Hill's own computer scientists, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas), offered colleagues a lesson in cybersecurity basics.

The two members of Congress with degrees in computer science are urging their fellow legislators to be a little more conscientious about their personal and professional cybersecurity.

In a "dear colleagues" letter, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas) credited the House CIO with working "to protect our offices from millions of cyberattacks every year" but also noted that members could make the CIO's job easier with a little good cyber housekeeping.

The pair asked lawmakers to create strong passwords, use two-factor authentication on web tools such as social media and email, take advantage of strong encryption on voice and data applications, beware of untrustworthy Wi-Fi networks and install antivirus software. Additionally, they urged members to routinely back up their data to render it less vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

Lieu told FCW he was prompted to alert colleagues by a spate of recent threats.

"After my first year serving in Congress, I have come to realize how vulnerable we are through our digital devices," Lieu told FCW. "My work with '60 Minutes' to publicize the SS7 vulnerability and the recent ransomware scare for all House members and staff are just two specific factors inspiring me to send this letter today."

Members of Congress need to understand that they are high-value targets because of their rank and access to official and nonpublic information, Lieu said. He added that he is concerned about the "shocking disparity" between the ease of hacking and the lack of attention ordinary Internet users, including members of Congress, give to their digital security.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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