Wyden pushing to mandate 'basic cybersecurity' for Senate

Wyden pushing to mandate 'basic cybersecurity' for Senate
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenClimate advocates turn sights on Wall Street Democrats scramble to reach deal on taxes Pelosi open to scrapping key components in spending package MORE (D-Ore.) is pushing Senate Committee on Rules and Administration's leadership to require a "basic cybersecurity practice" to protect Senate email and digital networks.

"As you know, the cybersecurity and foreign intelligence threats directed at Congress are significant. However, the Senate is far behind when it comes to implementing basic cybersecurity practices like two-factor identification," he wrote in a letter to Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and ranking member Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharGOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Biden holds meetings to resurrect his spending plan MORE (D-Minn.).

Two-factor identification would require Senate staff to use a second credential to log in to systems, in addition to a password. Traditionally, the three factors that can be used to verify identity are split into three categories, "something you know" (like a password), "something you have" (like a key card or physical key) and "something you are" (like biometric face and fingerprint scanning). 

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That type of security is required in the White House, where identification cards contain secure chips. Wyden compares the White House and Senate cards in his letter. 

"[I]n contrast to the executive branch's widespread adoption of [Personal Identity Verification] cards with a smart chip, most Senate staff ID cards have a photo of a chip printed on them, rather than a real chip," he wrote. 

Wyden notes that the Senate sergeant-at-arms requires two-factor identification to access systems off of the Senate campus. But, he notes, there is no requirement to use two-factor identification in the offices on the Hill.