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Senators quiz Pompeo on State Department's cybersecurity failures

A bipartisan group of senators called out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the State Department's failure ...

Posted: Sep 13, 2018 9:25 AM
Updated: Sep 13, 2018 9:25 AM

A bipartisan group of senators called out Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the State Department's failure to meet federal law on cybersecurity standards, including basic protocols used by major internet companies.

The lawmakers sent a letter to Pompeo on Tuesday citing a General Services Administration report that found the State Department has deployed only "enhanced access controls," such as multi-factor authentication, or multiple steps to log in, across "11% of required agency devices."

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The letter also referenced findings by the State Department inspector general, who found in 2017 "that 33% of diplomatic missions failed to conduct the most basic cyber threat management practices, like regular reviews and audits."

Bipartisan concern

"We are sure you will agree on the need to protect American diplomacy from cyberattacks, which is why we have such a hard time understanding why the Department of State has not followed the lead of many other agencies and complied with federal law requiring the use of MFA (multi-factor authentication)," read the letter from Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and their Republican colleagues Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The senators asked that the State Department provide them with information about how it is working to rectify the situation and the number of successful and attempted cyberattacks on State Department systems abroad.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed they had received the letter and said it would be carefully reviewed before the department responds.

Multi-factor or two-factor authentication usually requires users to enter a separate code after they enter their passwords when logging in to their email or social media accounts. The code is usually texted to the user or accessed through a mobile phone app.

'Accessed by an enemy'

The additional security step is offered by major tech giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter, and is designed to prevent a hack even if a user's password has been stolen.

As the midterm elections approach, some political campaigns and state election officials are using two-factor authentication in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the widespread Russian hacking seen in 2016.

Jessica Ortega, a research analyst at the cybersecurity firm SiteLock, told CNN that a State Department official not using multi-factor authentication could be vulnerable to a cyberattack.

"Not having accounts protected by multiple layers of security could mean that cracking one password or PIN code means that all the information a diplomat has access to could be accessed by an enemy," she said.

The Democratic National Committee, which itself was allegedly successfully targeted by Russian hackers, according to a recent indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller's team, has advised candidates to use multi-factor authentication.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
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Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
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Washington7102150
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Monroe6514164
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Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
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Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
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George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
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Itawamba4444100
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Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
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Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
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Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
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Sumter124536
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