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Chicom Cyber Bomb Thrown at Capitol Hill

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Chinese hackers attacked the office computers of Senator Bill Nelson recently sparking a push at recent hearings for more to be done about cyber intrusions, our friend Josh Rogin reports at Congressional Quarterly.

The enterprising reporter heard a seemingly throw away line in a hearing last week and dove into the story, uncovering a focused push by hackers with IP addresses originating in China to penetrate the Senator's computer.

In three separate attacks, two in March and one in February, cyberhackers targeted the work stations of Nelsons foreign policy aide, his deputy legislative director, and a former Nelson NASA adviser, Nelsons office said in a statement.

The hackers did not steal any classified information, which is not stored on office computers, the statement said.

A Nelson aide said the attacks were traced to China through Internet Protocol (IP) information, which could have been masked. The Office of Senate Security and the Senate Sergeant at Arms Information Technology Security Branch responded to the attacks, the aide said, by wiping clean malicious code from the affected systems.

Nelson first disclosed the attacks March 19 at an Armed Services Committee hearing that featured testimony by senior military officials with domain over cyberwarfare.

I have had my office computers invaded three times in the last month, and one of them we think is very serious, Nelson said at the hearing.

At another hearing the same day, this time held by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Nelson said his computer seemed to be talking to a computer in some international arena.

We've been writing for months here at DT that the cyber warfare battlefield should be taken more seriously. A lot of our readers feel like this is the Internet equivalent of a North Korean nuke -- a glorified firecracker that will sputter to a halt in boost phase over Pyongyang, raining radiation from derelict X-Ray machines all over the three cars driving past the world's largest Kim Jong Il statue.

But our own Kevin Coleman warns in private conversations with me that the cyber threat is very real and is being taken seriously by more and more government officials -- the DoD, intel community, White House and Congress. There's movement afoot to create a cabinet level cyber warfare Czar which would clearly elevate the issue to the highest levels.

Poo poo it all you want, but as the Nelson cyber attack from Chinese IPs points out, there's some serious probing going on here. And as you know, once the reactionary sleeping giant of Capitol Hill is awakened to the threat, it's only a matter of time before resources are thrown at the problem.

-- Christian

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