technology

Microsoft Says Russians Tried to Hack Senate and Think Tanks
Operation used domain names similar to the Senate and two conservative institutions

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, is chairman of the board of directors for International Republican Institute. Microsoft said the think tank was targeted by Strontium, also referred to as “Fancy Bear,” which is associated with Russian intelligence. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Microsoft announced late Monday that it thwarted a spearphishing attack against the U.S. Senate by a group affiliated with Russian intelligence.

In a statement, the tech giant said its digital crimes unit “executed a court order to disrupt and transfer control of six internet domains created by a group widely associated with the Russian government.”

Hacking an American Election Is Child’s Play, Just Ask These Kids
Amidst election insecurity in Georgia, kids at this year’s DefCon show how easy systems are to hack

Daisy Capote, a Miami-Dade election support specialists, checks voting machines for accuracy at the Miami-Dade Election Department headquarters in Doral, Florida last week in preparation for the state’s primary later this month. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In March, Hawaii Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Securing America’s Elections Act to require the use of paper ballots as backup in case of alleged election hacking. Now voting advocates are suing Georgia to do the same thing.

Some voting systems are so easy to hack a child can do it. Eleven year old Emmett Brewer hacked into a simulation of Florida’s state voting website in less than 10 minutes at the DefCon hacking conference last week in Las Vegas, according to Time

3 Takeaways From the Pence ‘Space Force’ Sales Pitch
Vice president ignores white elephant: a skeptical military and Congress

Space Force was on the mind of Vice President Mike Pence, seen here in the Rotunda last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s a new applause line in President Donald Trump’s campaign spiel.

It’s not quite up there with “Crooked Hillary” or demanding professional football players who kneel for the National Anthem to “get the hell out of here.” Crowds react with loud cheers when the president touts his envisioned “Space Force.”

Library of Congress Awards $27.3 Million Data Center Contract
Accenture will develop long-planned project

The Library of Congress has awarded a multi-million dollar contract to Accenture for a new data security and storage center. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Contracting giant Accenture was awarded the $27.3 million contract to build the long-planned new data center for the Library of Congress.

The federal services arm of Accenture announced the three-year contract to build both a physical data center and other hosting environments, including cloud services.

Sen. Rand Paul Invites Top Russians to U.S. as They Claim No Election Interference
‘We all do it,’ Kentucky Republican has said of election interference

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., invited top Russian government officials to the U.S. later this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Rand Paul invited top Russian government officials to visit the U.S. later this year to continue a dialogue on important national security issues, he announced Monday.

The Kentucky Republican, who is leading a legislative delegation in the country this week, met with Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs. That committee is the Russian equivalent of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that Paul sits on.

So... How Does the White House Really Feel About Russia?
Trump undercuts security officials again with ‘the Russian hoax’

President Donald Trump on Thursday dismissed criticism of his Finland summit with Vladimir Putin just hours after his national security team warned Putin is overseeing an ongoing campaign to upend the U.S. political system. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images file photo)

Senior U.S. national security officials were clear Thursday afternoon: The Kremlin was involved in meddling in the 2016 American election and continues to be oversee efforts to do so again. Hours later, however, President Donald Trump described himself and Russian President Vladimir Putin as buddies.

As it often does, the Trump White House on Thursday sent mixed — starkly opposite, really — messages about Moscow’s ongoing hostile actions to upend the American political system and U.S.-Russian relations. The confusion leaves those very officials and lawmakers — including Republicans who have criticized Trump as too weak on Putin — still searching for the official administration stance on election meddling and posture toward America’s Cold War rival.

Campaigns Grapple With Cybersecurity as Russian Threat Looms
Some experts are concerned campaigns are still not prioritizing security

Some experts worry that campaigns aren’t prioritizing cybersecurity with just three months before Election Day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid increased warnings of Russian interference in the midterm elections — and evidence that hackers are targeting candidates — congressional campaigns are trying to balance cybersecurity with the demands of competitive contests. 

That’s especially difficult for small House campaigns. But experts warn that such campaigns, particularly in competitive races, are prime targets for hackers and foreign adversaries.

Internal House Democratic Web Tools Overhauled
Mobile access improvement among features targeted for upgrade

The new intranet for Democratic House staff (Courtesy office of House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer)

House Democratic staffers last week likely noticed some big changes to their internal communication and legislative tracking tool, DemCom, which was re-released with significant changes.

The intranet is not available to the public, but is used regularly by thousands of Democratic staffers in the House.

Hackers Target Senators, Political Parties Frequently, Shaheen Says
Phishing attacks common among both Republicans and Democrats

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said senators are frequently the target of phishing attacks like the one on Sen. Claire McCaskill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The attempt by Russian hackers to infiltrate the email system of Sen. Claire McCaskill and her Senate staff was not a rare incident, a Senate colleague says.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office has been the target of at least one phishing attack for email and social media accounts, the New Hampshire Democrat said Sunday.

McCaskill Staff Dodges Hack but Hill Security Still Lags
Staff thwarted the hack, but training isn’t mandatory

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., speaks at a press conference in the Capitol Thursday July 19, 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Russian hackers targeted Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office, staffers did not take the bait.

That could mean the money Congress poured into improved training and a more robust information security posture for staff is working. But the legislative branch is still playing catch up to get ahead of threats.