Cyberattacks Against Congress More Worrisome Than Capitol Assault

"20200114-N-WD117-2067" (CC BY 2.0) by U.S. Naval War College

On Saturday, Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson declared the cyberattacks on Congress and U.S. interests more worrisome than another assault at the Capitol. 

The chief law enforcement officer for the Senate said that she worries “a lot more” about cybersecurity than another attack at the Capitol. She then added that cybersecurity is a greater concern than the thought of thousands of people swarming the West Terrace. 

The reality of cyberattacks against the U.S. 

According to Gibson, an attempted intrusion at Capitol networks happens on a daily basis. Moreover, with the rise in ransomware attacks, cybersecurity became a greater risk. 

Gibson then noted that members of the House carry sensitive information that they would not want to disclose, particularly those that are in the form of documents. She then explained that this is because of the rising concern about foreign rivals using wicked means to paralyze the U.S. government. 

Gibson’s remarks came after the latest ransomware attack. Recently, the world’s largest meat processing company, JBS, suspended its operations due to a cyberattack. The company shuttered for approximately four days. 

FBI officials connected that attack to the same Russian-based group that previously targeted the East Coast Colonial pipeline.

Then cyberattack on the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. cost Colonial around $4.5 million in ransom. The money was given in exchange for regaining access to its system. So far, it is unclear if JBS paid ransom as well.

Biden called for a revision of the government’s strategy for cybersecurity in an executive order signed last month to address the recent attacks.

This week, the Department of Justice also announced that they are raising the priority of ransomware attacks to the same level as terrorism. 

Biden urged the private sector to invest in cybersecurity

Meanwhile, the Biden administration consistently urged the private sector to invest more heavily in countering cyberattacks. 

“P20210513AS-0633-2” (United States government work) by The White House

The Senate Sergeant at Arms said that she often thought of cybersecurity as the “soft underbelly” of the United States. She added that it is a critical infrastructure placed in the hands of the private sector.

According to her, it may not be given security to the same extent as it needs. Gibson added that this was evident with the ransomware incident that happened with Colonial Pipeline. 

Moreover, Gibson also emphasized that for those who want to bring harm to the U.S., there are many ways for them to do so in a cyber domain. She then added that this issue would keep the cybersecurity personnel busy for the foreseeable future. 

During the Geneva summit on June 16, the White House said that Biden would discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin the recent string of Russian-based cyberattacks.