In the latest ransomware attack du jour, at least 60 Congressional lawmakers have been unable to access constituent data for weeks. The target was iConstituent, a tech vendor that provides constituent services claiming to “Transform the way you engage with your constituents” according to their website. Seems pretty transformed to me right now.
The problem remains unresolved as lawmaker frustration continues to grows. I would imagine constituents would be pretty upset as well. Since it is allegedly unclear who is responsible for attack the government is falling back on it’s usual and useful suspect: Russian cyber hackers. Sound familiar?
President Biden will discuss the “matter” with Putin when they meet next week. Okay! That makes me feel better already.
This is the latest cyber-attack after a series of hacks against the US executive branch and American companies have left many institutions feeling vulnerable and the Biden administration struggling to deal with the situation.
The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, which is responsible for the IT security of the House of Representatives, said there was ‘no impact’ on overall House data and it was working with the company to resolve the situation. “At this time, the CAO is not aware of any impact to House data. The CAO is coordinating with the impacted offices supported by iConstituent and has taken measures to ensure that the attack does not affect the House network and offices’ data,” the office said in a statement.
Several lawmaker offices list payments to iConstituent in the latest Statements of Disbursement, with payments in the thousands of dollars to the tech company.
News of the attack was first reported by Punchbowl News.
Understandably, frustration is building among lawmakers about the “matter”. Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, told Punchbow News that he “understands there is some frustration at the vendor in question here.” Hmmm.
The claim is that It’s still unclear who was responsible for this latest attack. Russian actors were blamed for the Solarwinds attack last year, (which is looking more like it was not, but a coordinated effort by several other foreign and domestic actors by forensic experts). However the one on the Colonial Pipeline last month and the most recent attack on meat producer JBS USA is looking like Russia and/or Eastern European actors may be involved. Gas and meat prices rose in the wake of the hacks. As I wrote earlier today, the FBI has recovered a fair amount of the ransom paid by Colonial to alleged Russian actors.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken warned that Vladimir Putin will have to answer for the ransomware attacks when the Russian president meets with President Joe Biden next week. I hope that goes better than Blinken’s recent meeting with the CCP.
Biden is meeting with Putin next Wednesday in Geneva for their face-to-face meeting since Biden became president. Tensions have risen between Washington and Moscow as Biden has taken a heavy-handed approach when dealing with Russia. He has taken Russia to task for its interference in US elections; Moscow’s aggressive posture toward the Ukraine and the government’s treatment of dissent Alexei Navalny.
Blinken said one of the reasons Biden is meeting with his Russian counterpart is because of the ransomware attacks, ‘to tell him directly and clearly what he can expect from the United States if aggressive, reckless actions toward us continue.’
He said the meeting would be a “test” of the administration’s goal to have a ‘stable, predictable relationship’ with the Kremlin.
‘I can’t tell you whether I’m optimistic or not about the results of that test, but it’s important to do that. And also (sic), I don’t think we’re going to know after one meeting, but we’ll have some indications and we’ll see. We’re prepared either way,’ Blinken noted.
He continued with the Russia, Russia, Russia mindset, ‘If Russia chooses to continue reckless and aggressive action – we’re prepared to deal with that, as we have – on the other hand, if it chooses a different course, we’re prepared to engage,’ he added.
Last week, Biden did not rule out retaliation against Putin for the series of cyber-attacks on American companies.
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