Senate IT systems are ‘far behind’ on basic cybersecurity, Wyden charges

While the executive branch has long since been adopting two-factor authentication, the senate neither requires nor even offers it, the Senator charged.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., pictured at the Web 2.0 Summit (Flickr / JD Lasica)

The U.S. Senate is “far behind when it comes to implementing basic cybersecurity practices,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a letter sent Thursday to the Senate Rules Committee.

Wyden urges committee chair Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and ranking member Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to improve information security in all Senate IT systems by requiring two-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication is a basic and effective security measure requiring two types of authentication such as a password, a code from a mobile app or a chip on an ID card. The layers of protection make it more difficult for hackers to successfully attack targeted accounts and networks.

Eighty percent of all executive branch agencies use two-factor authentication, Wyden said, while the Senate neither requires nor even offers the additional protection for desktop computers and email accounts except for remote work.


“It is critical that the legislative branch is able to secure our systems from hackers and foreign governments,” Wyden wrote.

Here is the full letter:

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Written by Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O’Neill is a cybersecurity reporter for CyberScoop based in San Francisco.

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