Citing DCCC hack, Lieu wants speed in FCC probe

Citing DCCC hack, Lieu wants speed in FCC probe
© Cameron Lancaster

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) is pushing the Federal Communications Commission to speed up its investigation into a phone security flaw in light of a stolen database of Democratic congressional contact information being posted online.

On Tuesday, Lieu sent a letter to Chairman Tom Wheeler asking the FCC to “expedite” its probe into flaws in the Signaling System Number 7 (SS7) protocol.

ADVERTISEMENT

The SS7 protocol, which connects different telephone networks, reportedly has substantial security holes. Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in SS7 to monitor or track many aspects of mobile phones worldwide knowing nothing more than a phone number.

The FCC had opened an investigation into the vulnerability in mid-April. Four months later, the list of contact information for around 200 members of Congress was leaked by the hacker or hackers behind the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic National Committee hacks. 

“The SS7 Problem is no longer a theoretical threat,” wrote Lieu in his letter to Wheeler.

The SS7 protocol dates back to the 1970s, but vulnerabilities in the protocol did not become widely known until German researcher Karsten Nohl demonstrated an SS7 hack on "60 Minutes" in 2014. The willing victim in Nohl’s demonstration was Lieu. 

“Because we don’t know how long the hackers had access to this information, it is very possible nearly half of Congress has already voice and text data intercepted,” Lieu wrote in his Tuesday letter.