• EncryptionThe ENCRYPT Act protects encryption from U.S. state prying

    By David Ruiz

    It’s not just the DOJ and the FBI that want to compromise your right to private communications and secure devices—some state lawmakers want to weaken encryption, too. In recent years, a couple of state legislatures introduced bills to restrict or outright ban encryption on smartphones and other devices. Fortunately, several Congress members recently introduced their own bill to stop this dangerous trend before it goes any further.

  • China syndromeLawmakers introduce amendment on Huawei and ZTE

    A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to respond to the national-security threat posed by Chinese telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE. “Huawei and ZTE have extensive ties with the Chinese Communist Party, as well as a track record of doing business with rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran. So it’s only prudent that no one in the federal government use their equipment or services and that they receive no taxpayer dollars. Given their repeated violations of U.S. law, we cannot trust them to respect U.S. national security, and so it’s vital we hold them accountable and pass this amendment,” said Cotton.

  • China syndromeWarner questions Google, Twitter about Chinese partnerships

    U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Virginia), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on Thursday sent letters to Twitter and Google parent company Alphabet, requesting information about any data sharing agreements between the companies and Chinese vendors. “Since at least October 2012, when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released its widely-publicized report, the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei and ZTE has been an area of national security concern,” Warner wrote the two companies.

  • The Russia connectionRussia conducted "unprecedented, coordinated" attacks on U.S. voting systems in 2016: Senate Intelligence Committee

    Hackers affiliated with the Russian government conducted an “unprecedented, coordinated” campaign against the U.S. voting system, including successfully penetrating a few voter-registration databases in 2016, the Senate Intelligence Committee has concluded. The cyberattacks targeted at least eighteen states, and possibly three more. “Russian actors scanned databases for vulnerabilities, attempted intrusions, and in a small number of cases successfully penetrated a voter registration database,” the committee said in an interim report releaed Tuesday.

  • The Russia connectionTen legislative proposals to defend America against foreign influence operations

    By David Salvo

    More than a year after Russia’s broad hacking and disinformation campaign of interference in the 2016 presidential election, and with midterm elections looming on the horizon, Congress and the Trump administration have not taken any clear action to increase U.S. defenses against the foreign interference threat. There are important steps we can, and must, take to defend our institutions against adversaries who seek to undermine them. Many of Russia’s tactics have exploited vulnerabilities in our societies and technologies, and loopholes in our laws. Some of the steps necessary to defend ourselves will involve long-term work, others will require clear action by the Executive Branch to ensure Americans are united against the threat we face, and steps to both deter and raise the costs on such actions.

  • BiothreatsFunding restored to National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures lab

    The Fort Detrick, Maryland-based National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) is no longer facing an immediate jeopardy. The federal omnibus spending bill,  released last Wednesday evening, provided full funding for the biohazard laboratory – funding which the original administration’s budget proposal eliminated.

  • The Russia connectionLawmakers urge State Department to counter Russia’s anti-Semitic propaganda

    S ix senators called on called on Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan to commit to countering anti-Semitic Russian propaganda identified by the intelligence community, the Anti-Defamation League, and social media networks. The senators pressed Sullivan to devote part of the $120 million recently provided to the State Department to counter Russian disinformation to specifically target Russian anti-Semitic propaganda.

  • The Russian connectionU.S. not ready to fend off Russian meddling in the 2018 midterms: GOP, Dem. lawmakers

    Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence (DNI), told lawmakers two weeks ago that “the Unsaid States is under attack” by Russia. On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee held hearings about how the United States was addressing one of the components the three-pronged Russian attack: Russia’s ambitious effort to undermine and discredit American democracy by attacking the U.S. election infrastructure. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former DHS secretary Jeh Johnson were confronted by pointed questions from both Republicans and Democrats, questions which revealed a bipartisan consensus that the United States is not prepared to fend off Russian meddling in the 2018 midterms.

  • The Russia connectionSenate Intel Committee: Initial election security recommendations for 2018 election cycle

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold an open hearing today, Wednesday, 21 March 2018, on the threats to election infrastructure. The hearing will cover Russian attempted attacks on state election infrastructure in 2016, DHS and FBI efforts to improve election security, and the view from the states on their cybersecurity posture. The committee yesterday made available its initial recommendations on election security after investigating Russian attempts to target election infrastructure during the 2016 U.S. elections.

  • The Russia connectionLawmakers question lack of effort by State, Defense in countering Russian disinformation

    A bipartisan group of six members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee have urged the State Department and the Department of Defense to explain why tens of millions in federal funds designated to counter disinformation and propaganda from foreign governments like Russia have not been spent. The Senators’ letter comes in response to a report that the State Department has not spent any of the $120 million Congress allocated to the Department to combat foreign meddling in U.S. elections.

  • BiodefenseNew Congressional Biodefense Caucus launched

    A new Congressional Biodefense Caucus was launched last Monday. The caucus said it already has a bipartisan membership roll which includes twenty-seven Members of Congress. The caucus is “dedicated to strengthening our nation’s biodefense enterprise and national security.”

  • The Russia connectionNational security officials' letter supporting bipartisan Secure Elections Act

    A bipartisan groups of former national security officials and lawmakers sent a letter to all U.S. senators in support of the Secure Elections Act (S. 2261). The legislation, introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), would empower states to address rising cybersecurity risks to American elections without undermining their control over the administration of those elections.

  • The Russia connectionDem. leaders want $300 million for FBI, DHS to protect U.S. election from Russia

    The Democratic leaders in the Senate and House on Wednesday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), demanding that $300 million be given to the FBI and DHS so they can thwart more meddling by foreign powers. The letter urges state and local governments to bolster their defense against cyberattacks, including the replacement of outdated voter registration and voting systems, after the FBI and DHDS confirmed that Russian government operatives, in 2016, tried to attack these components of the U.S. election system in twenty-one states.

  • Universal vaccineBill to jump-start universal flu vaccine efforts

    As the nation grapples with a long and unrelenting flu season rivaling by some measures the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, a group of U.S. senators last week unveiled a proposal to invest $1 billion in research over the next 5 years to create a universal flu vaccine that would provide lifetime protection against a range of influenza strains. The announcement came just as U.S. researchers released an interim report card on the flu vaccine’s performance so far this season, which again showed disappointingly low effectiveness against H3N2, this season’s dominant strain.

  • The Russia connectionHouse bill will hold Putin, others accountable for election meddling

    Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Brad Schneider (D-Illinois) introduced H.R. 4884, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, a House companion to S. 2313 which was introduced by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) earlier this month. The DETER Act would impose sanctions against Russia should it meddle again and requests a presidential strategy for deterring future interference by China, Iran, North Korea, or any other foreign government.