National Security

Senate sergeant at arms says cyberattack more worrisome than repeat of Jan. 6 insurrection

Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson
Greg Nash

Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson said Saturday she is more concerned about a cyberattack on the government than another insurrection like the one that rocked Capitol Hill on Jan. 6.

“Our networks … have attempted intrusions every single day. And so, cybersecurity for me is a much greater concern than the prospect of thousands of people storming the West Terrace,” Gibson said in an interview that aired on CNN Saturday.

“Members have sensitive information that they would not necessarily want to have disclosed that may be in documents. Much of what we do is public. And meant to be so,” Gibson said. “But I would worry about … nation-state actors or others who might try to just really cripple the government’s ability to function by locking down cybercommunications networks.”

Gibson’s concern comes after a slew of crippling cyberattacks that have caused disruptive shutdowns across the country.

Colonial Pipeline, which supplies around 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel, temporarily shut down its operations last month after a ransomware attack carried out by a Russia-based criminal group. JBS USA, the nation’s largest beef supplier, was struck by a similar ransomware attack this week for which criminals in Russia are also believed to be responsible.

Ransomware attacks overall have increased during the coronavirus pandemic as hackers target vulnerable and critical organizations they believe are more likely to pay up to regain access to their networks and data.

President Biden has already put forth a plan to $750 million for federal agencies’ cybersecurity, and Congress is debating a bill to put more money toward the Capitol’s physical defense.

Tags cyberattacks Cybercrime Cyberwarfare Joe Biden Karen Gibson Ransomware

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