Week ahead: DHS nominee heads before Senate | Ex-Yahoo chief to testify on hack | Senators dig into election security

Week ahead: DHS nominee heads before Senate | Ex-Yahoo chief to testify on hack | Senators dig into election security
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The national security world will be closely watching on Wednesday as the Senate Homeland Security Committee holds a confirmation hearing for Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump's selection for Homeland Security chief.

Nielsen has an intriguing background when it comes to cybersecurity. She was at one point expected to be the next head of the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at DHS.

NPPD covers a number of cybersecurity directives in the agency, including biometrics, cybersecurity of critical infrastructure and cybersecurity communications.


Nielsen is also the founder and former president of a critical infrastructure protection consultancy, which held a handful of government contracts under the Obama administration.

Nielsen has worked closely with Trump's chief of staff, John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE. She's currently his deputy and previously was his chief counsel when he ran Homeland Security.

A potential hiccup for Nielsen could be her role with George W. Bush's DHS and its botched Katrina response. DHS oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is handling the response to this year's catastrophic hurricane season and wildfires in Western states.

Russian-linked groups' use of social media to influence the 2016 election will also be in the spotlight in the coming week.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the top lawyers from Twitter, Google and Facebook testified before Senate committees on the Russian efforts and steps they are taking to determine the extent of the interference and ways to prevent it in the future.

Lawmakers, though, made it clear after the hearings that they intend to keep the pressure on Silicon Valley to do more.

"I went home last night with profound disappointment. I asked specific questions and I got vague answers," Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDurbin to Trump: ‘We’re the mob? Give me a break’ Sen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue GOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks MORE (D-Calif.) told the executives during one hearing.

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP lawmaker once belittled sexual harassment: 'How traumatizing was it?' Meet the man poised to battle Dems from the White House Minnesota GOP Senate candidate compared Michelle Obama to a chimp in Facebook post MORE (D-Minn.) blasted Facebook for accepting political ads from Russia that were paid for in rubles, and asking why that didn't tip off the company to foreign election interference.

The scrutiny over Russian influence and the spread of fake news has tech companies worried about new regulation and has left them scrambling to show they can handle the issue alone. In the Senate, lawmakers have already introduced a bipartisan bill that would expand disclosure requirements for online political ads. The executives who testified all declined to endorse the bill.

Expect more questions about the Twitter employee who on their final day at work took down President Trump's account.

Trump's account was down for about 11 minutes on Thursday night.

Twitter blamed a customer service employee and said they were looking into the matter. But the incident raised questions about the level of security for the president's account.

One prominent attorney on cybersecurity issues also raised the possibility that the Twitter employee might have broken a law, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Lawmakers will also dig into cybersecurity issues at a number of hearings in the coming week.

On Tuesday, a House Homeland Security subcommittee will investigate the effectiveness of DHS's research and development arm.

Two House Oversight subcommittees will hold a joint hearing on voting machine security on Wednesday.

The hearing comes days after Sens. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia For everyone’s safety, border agents must use body-worn cameras Electric carmakers turn to Congress as tax credits dry up MORE (D-N.M.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsConservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality MORE (R-Maine) unveiled an election security bill that addresses the issue on several fronts. The Securing America's Voting Equipment (SAVE) Act has provisions to improve information sharing from the intelligence community to state officials, grants to replace machinery and a rewards program to spur third-party research to catch bugs.

The Senate Commerce Committee will meet to discuss "protecting consumers in the era of major data breaches" on Wednesday.

The hearing will feature former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who presided over the company's record-breaking breach in 2013 that was not discovered until last year. Yahoo has said that 3 billion accounts were compromised.

The Hill reported Thursday that Mayer had been threatened with a subpoena before agreeing to testify.

Also testifying will be the chief privacy officer of Verizon, which purchased Yahoo this year. Senators will also hear from the current and former heads of Equifax, the credit reporting agency which disclosed its own massive hack this year.


In case you missed it:

Former Trump adviser grilled by House committee behind closed doors

Lawmakers look to bug bounties, but experts warn of unexpected work

Warner hits Trump: He's 'unwilling to acknowledge' Russian threat

GOP chairman presses social media companies over Russian energy ads

Senators release new election cybersecurity bill

Ransomware targeting Japan may be concealing other attacks

Former Trump adviser pleads guilty to lying about Russia contacts

Manafort indicted, surrenders to FBI

The Department of Justice may charge six Russian officials in Russian Hack (The Wall Street Journal)

Who else did Fancy Bear target with the campaign that struck John Podesta? (The Associated Press)