Whether citizens will try to storm the Capitol again like they did on Jan. 6 may be a major concern for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), but in a stunning interview Saturday, the Senate sergeant-at-arms said something else poses a much greater threat to security on Capitol Hill.
“I worry a lot more about cybersecurity than I do about another mob attacking the Capitol,” Karen Gibson said in a weekend interview, according to Fox News.
Gibson went on to reveal that cyberattacks are attempted against the Capitol on a daily basis, and the recent spate of ransomware attacks have made her concerns even more urgent.
“Cybersecurity for me is a much greater concern than the prospect of thousands of people storming the West Terrace,” she said, according to Fox.
Privacy concerns paramount
Notably, the Capitol Police disbursed the protesters from the Capitol building within just a few hours and restored order completely to the building, but a ransomware attack could disrupt operations in the Capitol for much longer, if it is successful.
“Members have sensitive information that they would not necessarily want to have disclosed that may be in documents. Much of what we do is public. And meant to be so,” Gibson explained in her Saturday interview, noting that America’s political enemies see cyberattacks as a new and effective way to bring her down.
Several recent ransomware attacks have had major impacts on American operations, including one on the Colonial Pipeline that caused gas shortages in the southeastern U.S. for over a week, and another recent attack on JBS, the largest meat processing operation in the country, which was shut down and couldn’t process any meat for four days last week, Fox noted.
According to reports, both major attacks were blamed on a Russia-linked hacking group, REvil, and it is only one of many such groups that exist around the world.
Biden, DOJ taking steps
For their part, President Joe Biden and the Justice Department have both taken steps in recent days to deal with the threat of cyberattacks, but it remains to be seen whether their efforts will be successful.
According to Fox, Biden signed an executive order back in May calling for a federal overhaul of how the government handles cyberattacks — an order that will likely amount to not much more than lip service and possible future bureaucracy.
The Justice Department has also elevated the priority of ransomware attacks in its operations and created a task force to help deal with the problem, Fox notes.
It seems federal officials will have to keep stepping up their game if they want to come out on top of the cybercriminals who always seem to be just a few steps ahead.