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Weiner Incident Calls Attention to Cyber Security

The claim by Rep. Anthony Weiner that his Twitter account was “hacked” raises serious concerns on the security of the computer systems and smart phones used by members of Congress. If elected officials are subject to hacking, then how secure are systems in the federal government, especially in the security agencies?

There is an obligation for Rep. Weiner to enable the delineation of what happened and how it happened so that we can enhance our cyber security. At the very least, he should have informed the House Information Resources division of this breach for investigation.

We need to recognize the seriousness of online crimes. Identity theft is the fastest growing type of fraud in our nation, and the Federal Trade Commission estimates that identity theft costs consumers $50 billion a year. Yet, this goes far beyond a crime against consumers.

Our nation is reliant upon a digital infrastructure that supports our economy, national security, and public safety. It is clear that this digital infrastructure is not completely secure.

The Government Accounting Office reports that cyber intrusions are growing dramatically, with the number of security incidents reported by federal agencies increasing more than 400 percent from 2006 to 2009.

International terrorist groups use the Internet for recruiting, spreading their radical messages, and for training. This brings up the concern of cyber attacks against critical systems.

In January, Deputy Defense Secretary pointed out that more than 100 foreign intelligence agencies have tried to breach our defense computer networks. In 2008, a foreign intelligence succeeded in getting an infected flash drive into a classified Defense Department computer network in the Middle East.

As Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, I sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano on May 18, 2011. The Chairman and Ranking Democrat of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the subcommittees joined me in signing this letter seeking information on protecting power sources, water supplies, telecommunications systems, and chemical facilities.

Every American faces these threats to our privacy, our economy, and our national security, and we should all make every effort to bring these instances to light so that we can better enhance our cyber security. That includes members of Congress such as Rep. Weiner.

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