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GOP lawmakers demand Twitter brief Congress on hack

GOP lawmakers demand Twitter brief Congress on hack
© David Becker/Getty Images

The Senate Commerce Committee chairman and the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday demanded Twitter brief lawmakers on the unprecedented hack that compromised the accounts of prominent celebrities and politicians, including presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFear of insider attack prompts additional FBI screening of National Guard troops: AP Iran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries MORE and former President Obama.

In separate letters to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the lawmakers said the breach represented a “failure” of the company’s internal controls. Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerWall Street Journal: GOP Electoral College 'stunt' will hurt US, Republican Party Bipartisan group of senators: The election is over Southwest Airlines says it won't furlough workers after Trump signed relief bill MORE (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate commerce panel, called on Twitter to brief the committee staff by July 23 about the incident and the company's response.

Rep. James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerHouse GOP raise concerns over Biden's top Cabinet nominees Sackler family points fingers at Purdue Pharma during House hearing on opioids Republicans press FBI for briefing on efforts by Chinese government operatives to gain influence with lawmakers MORE (R-Ky.), the ranking member of the House Oversight panel, said in his letter that Wednesday's breach of the social media platform had the "potential to jeopardize national and economic security and disrupt the lives of millions of Americans." He urged Dorsey to brief members of the House committee by July 24 and provide a list of answers providing clarity on what the hackers accomplished. 

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Wednesday's attack is likely the largest ever on Twitter's security system. In a matter of minutes, the Twitter accounts of Biden, Obama, Tesla CEO Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskWhatsApp delays controversial privacy update Fringe social networks boosted after mob attack NASA's Europa Clipper has been liberated from the Space Launch System MORE, Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosAmazon suspends Parler from web hosting service World's richest people added .8T to their combined wealth in 2020 Amazon delivered more than 1.5 billion items over holiday season MORE and Microsoft founder Bill Gates had been breached as part of an apparent bitcoin scheme. Those who infiltrated the accounts shared similar messages asking people to transfer bitcoin payments to a certain bitcoin wallet. 

Twitter said late Wednesday that the perpetrators likely launched a "coordinated social engineering attack" that successfully targeted some employees who have access to internal systems and tools. 

"We know they used this access to take control of many highly-visible (including verified) accounts and Tweet on their behalf," the company said. "We’re looking into what other malicious activity they may have conducted or information they may have accessed and will share more here as we have it."

The breach of the social network raised alarms in Washington, given the widespread use of the network in the U.S. Wicker argued it isn't difficult to imagine similar attacks being deployed to spread disinformation and sow discord. Comer also cited President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE's frequent Twitter use in his letter to Dorsey to emphasize how consequential breaches of the platform could be. Trump's account was not visibly compromised Wednesday.

Comer asked Dorsey to brief lawmakers on how many employees were targeted in the hack and to provide answers on what type of training staffers receive when it comes to cyber attacks. He also requested information on whether the hacking was committed by a foreign adversary or a private entity. 

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Several lawmakers have echoed Comer and Wicker's concerns since the breach occurred. Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyCan we protect our country — from our rulers, and ourselves? Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Democratic super PAC targets Hawley, Cruz in new ad blitz MORE (R-Mo.), an outspoken critic of Big Tech, said that a "successful attack on [Twitter] system’s servers represents a threat to all of your users’ privacy and data security.”

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBiden tax-hike proposals face bumpy road ahead Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster MORE (D-Ore.) voiced fears about if hackers gained access to Twitter direct messages, saying that if that was the case, "this breach could have a breathtaking impact for years to come."

The FBI is reportedly leading a federal inquiry into the incident. New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoGovernors say no additional vaccine doses coming, despite Trump admin promise Mississippi runs out of coronavirus vaccine as state expands eligibility Cuomo announces performance initiative to revive New York's arts economy MORE (D) has also directed state agencies to launch a probe into the matter. 

Updated: 2:35 p.m.