Senator says Congress is increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks

SAN FRANCISCO'Emerging threats will force Congress to become more knowledgeable about cybersecurity'as an IT user, not just the government's overseer, Sen. Bob Bennett said today.

The Utah Republican spoke about the growing cyberthreat to Congress when accepting the Public Policy Award for Information Security at the RSA Security Conference. RSA Security Inc. of Bedford, Mass., cited Bennett as one of the few people in Congress who gets cybersecurity and focuses on the issue.

Bennett downplayed his expertise: 'In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.'

He described the Senate and the House as more adapted to dealing with 19th century problems than modern threats. But he said that must change.

'The Senate has been under tremendous attack,' from anthrax in 2001 and from more recent discoveries of ricin in Senate mail, he said. 'We are not going to be allowed to open our own mail.'

A special staff will open mail at a remote site and deliver it, under guard, to Senate offices. Because of this cumbersome process, 'the pressure to move to e-mail will be very high,' Bennett said. 'Which means that the next target of terrorists wanting to shut down the government will be cyberattacks.'

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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