House adopting cellphone defense measures

House adopting cellphone defense measures
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The House of Representatives will begin protecting the mobile devices of members of Congress and staff from cyber threats, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer confirmed on Wednesday, through a new contract with Lookout Mobile. 

"The new application, which identifies threats such as unsecured Wi Fi and malicious apps, is one of many ongoing initiatives that help the House protect its data, but it still requires vigilance," said John Ramsey, chief information security officer (CISO) for the House, via email. 

The mobile security contract got high marks from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.). The Democratic lawmaker — who famously participated in a "60 Minutes" demonstration in which he allowed hackers in Germany to turn his cellphone into a listening device — had pushed the House Administration Committee this year to increase mobile security training for members and staff.

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"For years, Congress has been a locked building with an open window," Lieu said in a statement. "Members and staff are hugely dependent on mobile devices to do our work, but those phones are not adequately protected. The CISO’s decision to extend cybersecurity protections to Congress’ mobile devices is an important step to better protect the sensitive work of Congress.”

Lieu last Thursday hosted a demonstration of mobile hacking techniques that included representatives from Lookout.

The web analytics company StateCounter estimated that 51.3 percent of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices, with 46 percent coming comes from cellphones and the remainder from from tablets. Hacked cellphones can be turned into mobile bugs, using phone cameras and microphones to surveil owners.