[ISN] (Parody) - Congresswoman closes office over computer threat

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Nov 24 09:03:26 EST 2004


by Robin Berger

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On the eve of the return of a lame duck Congress,
Zoe Lofgren has announced she will close her office on Capitol Hill.  
Lofgren is a Democrat who was re-elected in California's 16th
congressional district.

Lofgren said she fears "a possible cyberterror attack" that could harm
her staff's computers or those of her visitors. Her move follows that
of Democratic Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who closed his D.C.  
office in October, citing the threat of a physical terrorist attack.

Lofgren will move all of her computers and part of her staff to an
office in the Fort Snelling Federal Building, replacing Senator Dayton
and his office staff who recently stopped cowering from threats on
Capitol Hill. Email and telephone calls to Lofgren will be routed to
her California office.

Lofgren explained her reasons for fleeing Washington in an open letter
published on Cnet.com. "Malicious code--viruses and worms--is being
created to exploit software flaws within days, when only a year ago it
would have taken months for such code to appear. Our water supply,
electric grid, nuclear energy system and other critical
infrastructures are interconnected and interdependent, increasing the
likelihood that a cyberattack could disrupt major services and cripple
economic activity.

"Indeed, if a cyberattack occurred at the same time as a physical
attack," Lofgren asserted, "critical emergency response systems and
communications operations could be taken out, increasing the confusion
of an attack, and the number of casualties."

Lofgren is the ranking member of the House Cybersecurity, Science, and
Research & Development Subcommittee. As such, she is in a key position
to know about future cyberterror attacks, said Steven Beforebad, a
senior analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. "I'm thinking
of turning off our website and fleeing the capitol myself," he said.

However, U.S. government officials said there was no new intelligence
concerning a possible digital attack, and authorities said
congressional members have not been advised to shut down their
computers. "We continue to advise (people) to take caution ... but
there's no new information that we've put out," said Sgt. Contrivia
Chevy of the U.S. Capitol Cyber Law Enforcement Division.

But Lofgren told reporters in San Jose that Senate majority leader
Bill Frist briefed lawmakers on a "top-secret cyberintelligence
report." She claimed "I would not let my two children bring a GameBoy
or an Xbox to Capitol Hill before inauguration day."

Lofgren said she could not give details of the cybersecurity report
that Frist presented. She said she's asked Frist three times to
convene a meeting to discuss the situation, but Frist has not agreed.

Lofgren is closing her office "out of extreme, but necessary,
precaution to protect the safety of my Congressional computers. I feel
compelled to do so, because I will not be here in Washington to share
in what I consider to be an unacceptably greater risk to their

California is one of the top states in terms of technology. Lofgren
herself uses one of the more powerful computers in her office, with an
Intel 80486 processor running at 75MHz and a 1.6GB Western Digital
hard disk.

Senator John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said
the House and Senate leaderships have kept elected officials "fully
apprised" of threats against the U.S. Capitol, but he has seen nothing
to prompt the need to close offices. "Even when we are out of
session," he said, "we have a job to run web servers for our
constituents, and in the war on cyberterror, we can't let non-imminent
threats prevent us from using our computers."


The story as represented above is written as a satire or parody. It is

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