GOP senator demands briefing from Sessions after reports of Russian hackers targeting Senate
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) is demanding that Attorney General Jeff Sessions brief members of Congress on the steps that the Trump administration has taken to counter Russian hackers, following reports that a Moscow-linked espionage group has been targeting the U.S. Senate.
Cybersecurity firm Trend Micro said Friday that “Pawn Storm,” also known as Fancy Bear or APT 28, had set up phishing sites mimicking the Senate’s internal email system in hopes of pilfering users’ credentials.
Fancy Bear is believed to be connected to Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit, which the U.S. intelligence community has blamed for hacking Democrats’ emails ahead of the 2016 election.
“Last year, FBI Director [James] Comey said he was certain that Senate IT systems have been targeted and the Attorney General said we weren’t doing enough to prepare for Russia’s next attack,” Sasse said in a statement on Friday, referencing Comey’s testimony in May 2017, before President Trump removed him as FBI director.
“The Administration needs to take urgent action to ensure that our adversaries cannot undermine the framework of our political debates and the Attorney General should come back to Congress and explain what steps he’s taken since last year,” the GOP lawmaker added.
Sasse, a frequent Trump critic, is one of many lawmakers on Capitol Hill who has raised alarm over Russia’s hacking efforts. He said Friday that Moscow “is just getting started and the hacks, forgeries, and influence campaigns are going to get more and more sophisticated.”
The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for protecting federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyber threats. In response to Russia’s targeting of the elections, Homeland Security has been working to provide aid to states to help shore up the security of their voting systems.
Trend Micro said that the phishing sites targeting Senate staffers were set up in June 2017 and were “uniquely” related to Pawn Storm incidents in 2016 and 2017.