This Week in Cybersecurity: Dems press for information on Russian hacks


Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are keeping up their pressure on the Obama administration to make more information public about alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

“We believe there is additional information concerning the Russian Government and the U.S. election that should be declassified and released to the public,” the lawmakers, led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), wrote in a brief letter to President Obama on Wednesday. “We are conveying specifics through classified channels.”

{mosads}They have not yet received a reply, according to Wyden’s office.

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Mark Warner (Va.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and ex-officio member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) along with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, did not sign the public letter but reportedly signed a classified version.

In October, the intelligence community publicly blamed Russia for the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and other political organizations this year, calling the thefts an intentional effort to interfere with the U.S. election process.

Officials stopped short of blaming Russian hackers for the probing of state election systems. But Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has since said Russian scanning of state election infrastructure was “curtailed” after their statement.

Democrats have characterized the release of the DNC emails as an attempt to bolster Donald Trump’s bid for the White House and have pointed to the president-elect’s warm remarks about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Despite Trump’s election, Democrats are not easing their pressure.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) this week urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing probing the implications of Russian interference in the election.

“These Russian actions are unprecedented in our post-Cold War relationship and have rightfully drawn bipartisan condemnation and prompted bipartisan calls for Congressional hearings,” she wrote.

Shaheen added that a hearing could be paired with a closed-door briefing for lawmakers as they weigh a response to “these unacceptable violations of our democracy.”

Trump has fiercely disputed claims that the Russian government was helping his campaign and has declined to blame Russia for the attacks.

Russia isn’t the only item on lawmakers’ agenda, as they look to wrap up their work and head home early for the holidays.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill this week, a pair of House Oversight subcommittees will hold a hearing on the implementation of their scorecard for federal IT modernization, on Tuesday.

The full Oversight committee on Wednesday will examine the “costs of overclassification on transparency and security.”



A last-ditch effort in the Senate to prevent changes to a rule that will ease law enforcement’s use of hacking failed Wednesday morning, allowing the controversial updates to a warrant rule to take effect.

House and Senate conferees agreed to a final defense bill, passed Friday, that elevates the U.S. military cyber unit to a full combatant command.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) on Wednesday urged the House Oversight Committee to hold a hearing on the threat of so-called ransomware, a kind of computer virus that holds computers hostage until the user pays a ransom.

The House passed an annual intelligence policy authorization bill on Wednesday that includes a provision to increase scrutiny of Russia’s attempts to exert covert influence around the world, after the country was accused of meddling in this year’s U.S. presidential election.

The State Department on Thursday released 362 of the 15,000 Hillary Clinton emails uncovered by the FBI during its investigation into the former secretary of State’s personal email server.

A massive malware network that caused an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in damage was hobbled in a multinational law enforcement effort.

The Internet Archive, a nonprofit that saves copies of old web pages, is creating a backup of its database in Canada, in response to the election of Donald Trump.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, better known as the Muni, said it will not pay hackers to restore its systems after a ransomware attack.

Tags Angus King Barbara Mikulski Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Jack Reed Jeanne Shaheen Mark Warner Martin Heinrich Mazie Hirono Ron Wyden

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