© Greg Nash
A top Republican lawmaker on tech issues said the House should look into whether mobile phone networks are vulnerable to hackers.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said Monday night that a “60 Minutes” report on the vulnerability was worrisome.
The “60 Minutes” segment, aired Sunday night, showed how hackers could listen in on phone calls and track other data from smartphones with only the number associated with the device. The hackers said they were exploiting a vulnerability in a mobile network called SS7, which helps connect calls.
Walden called it “an issue of deep concern” and said he thinks "people will be astonished” by the existence of the vulnibility.
He said he expected lawmakers associated with his committee to examine the issue in some form.
“It’s something we’re looking at, yes, because it just went public here last night,” he said, before cautioning that it was possible lawmakers could do so in private sessions rather than an open hearing.
“We’ll get briefed up on it first and then see where we go,” he said, adding later, "Some of these issues are better dealt with maybe even in a classified setting.”
He is not the first lawmaker to call for lawmakers to examine the report. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said Monday that the House Oversight Committee should take a look at the vulnerability.
Lieu was featured in the “60 Minutes” piece, with reporters and hackers listening in on his phone calls and tracking his movements — with his consent — to demonstrate the dangers posed by leaving the network unsecured.
Walden said that he believed his subcommittee had jurisdiction over the issue, rather than Oversight.