The Storming Of The US Congress Building Poses a Serious Threat to Cybersecurity


The storming of the building of the US Congress in Washington, among other things, may pose a threat to cybersecurity, experts say.


On Wednesday, January 6, supporters of Donald Trump stormed into the Capitol building, where the US Congress is located, in order to disrupt Joe Biden's assertion as the 46th President of the United States. At least 50 people were arrested after using Molotov cocktails, improvised explosives and weapons. The storming of the Capitol killed at least five people.


According to The Independent, protesters gained access to at least one computer system in the office of Congress Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There are serious concerns that attackers could compromise the entire digital infrastructure of Congress.


Elijah Schaffer of The Blaze said in a tweet (now deleted) that he managed to break into Pelosi's office along with other protesters who broke into the building. The picture he published shows a computer monitor with an email client and emails open on the screen, dated 2019. Since the Capitol employees left their computers, laptops and mobile devices unattended during the emergency evacuation, attackers could also gain access to them.


Leaving computers and other devices without protection is fraught with the introduction of bookmarks and malware into them by foreign adversaries or other intruders. It is possible that the organizers of the assault could have downloaded malware onto computers via the Internet or using memory cards, said Peter Yapp, former deputy director of the UK's National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC).


However , the cybersecurity threat posed by the storming of the Capitol is quite low , according to cybersecurity official Eric Geller of the media organization Politico. First, Congress computer systems are not networked together, Geller explained. Secondly, no classified information is stored on potentially compromised machines. In addition, there have already been so many leaks in the Capitol that all valuable data has long been stored behind seven locks. And one more thing - the protesters were in the Capitol for a short time, and they would not have had enough time to gain full access to the systems.


However, according to Geller, the attackers did steal one computer from the office of Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley. Office staff declined to provide details due to ongoing investigations.


“Could one of the terrorists see confidential but not classified emails somewhere? Yes. Could there be Russian spies in the terrorist gang? Yes. But there is no evidence of this. Capitol IT staff will need to prioritize responses in line with risk modelling, ”Geller said.


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