‘Cyberinvaders’ crack into Sen. Bill Nelson’s staff PCs — twice

March 20th, 2009

billnelson_soldiers_cropCyberinvaders, as a peeved Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. called them today, continue cracking into U.S. government systems with impunity.

Nelson, who serves on the Senate Intelligence, Armed Services and Finance committees,  has just issued a statement disclosing that criminal hackers twice this month cracked into two PC workstations used by three of his key staffers. No classified information was kept on the breached PCs, which were used by Nelson’s foreign-policy aide, his deputy legislative director and a forner NASA adviser. So the bad guys stole little of value — at least from Sen. Nelson.

But Nelson also revealed that “similar incursions” of Capitol Hill computer networks “are up significantly in the past few months, based on reports from various information systems offices on Capitol Hill.”

It is difficult to resist connecting these latest Washington D.C. raids to Beijing’s detailed plan to push for “electronic dominance” over the USA, Britain, Russia and South Korea by 2050.

Unceasing ‘asymetrical’ warfare

From the Chinese Titan Rain raids of Sandia National Labs, home of much of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, in Sept. 2003;  to the breaches of computers at the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, in Oct. 2006;  to the hacking of military systems at U.S. Navy War College and the Pentagon, in 2006-2007, the evidence of an unceasing asymetrical attack on the U.S. continues to mount.

“The threat to our national security, to be sure, is real. And it will require significant investment and inter-agency coordination at an unprecedented level to gain an upper hand against would-be cyber criminals and spies,” says Nelson. “These are anxious days, when you consider the threat from such espionage facing our country and recent developments on this front.”

Nelson has joined with Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Virg. and Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, calling for the creation of a permanent national cyber-security czar, reporting directly to Pres. Obama. The Senate trio has even begun crafting legislation mandating  federal security reviews of both government and “critical private networks,” as well as creating  a “public-private clearinghouse for cyber threat and vulnerability information-sharing.”

Consensus gelling

Nelson’s pronouncements point to a broad consensus gelling among officials who grasp the implications of the rising  cybersecurity threat. His proposals echo these recommendations from the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ bi-partisan commission of senators and tech executives that met for over a year to derive a consensus view of what U.S. cybersecurity policy should look like, as well as these conclusions from the Lieberman-Collins study sponsored by the Dartmouth College-based Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection, better known as  I3P.

The lawmaker’s clarion call for  tougher, more unified cybersecurity regulations and protocols comes less than two weeks before management consultant Melissa Hathaway is due to deliver the results of her 60-day review of U.S. cybersecurity policy to Pres. Obama.

–By Byron Acohido

Photo of Sen. Nelson meeting with Florida National Guardsmen being deployed to Iraq.