Cyber criminals target Congress: 60 members from both parties are left UNABLE TO ACCESS data for weeks in latest ransomware hack

Daily Mail

At least 60 members of Congress from both parties have been unable to access data for weeks in the latest ransomware attack to strike the United States.

The target was iConstituent, a tech vendor that provides constituent outreach services to dozens of House offices, including a newsletter service that allows lawmakers to communicate with residents in their districts and a service to track constituent casework. 

It’s 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 handles IT security for 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.

And frustration is building among lawmakers on the matter.

Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, told Punchbowl that he ‘understands there is some frustration at the vendor in question here.’

It’s unclear who was responsible for this latest attack. Russian actors were blamed for the Solarwinds attack last year, one on the Colonial Pipeline last month and the most recent attack on meat producer JBS USA. Gas and meat prices rose in the wake of the hacks.

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.

‘We would prefer to have a more stable, predictable relationship with Russia. We’ve made that clear. But we’ve made equally clear that if Russia chooses to act aggressively or recklessly toward us or toward our allies and partners, we’ll respond,’ Blinken told Axios‘ Mike Allen in an interview that aired on HBO.

‘When it comes to these ransomware attacks, of course, we’ve already talked to the Russians about this. One of the things we’re seeing is that criminal enterprises seem to be engaged in these attacks. And it is an obligation on the part of any country, including Russia, if it has a criminal enterprise acting from its territory against anyone else, to do what’s necessary to stop it, to bring it to justice,’ the secretary of state said.

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, 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.

‘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.

‘We’re looking closely at that issue,’ Biden said when asked if he would retaliate. But he dismissed concerns he was being tested by his Russian counterpart.

‘No,’ he said when asked if he thought Putin was testing him.

The meeting between Biden and Putin will come at the end of the president’s first foreign trip, capping off his nine-day trip to Europe.

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