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Sen. Shaheen's office targeted with phishing attacks, hoax emails

By TODD FEATHERS
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 01. 2018 11:25AM

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. (Courtesy)



WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office has been the target of several phishing attacks and suspicious hoax emails, prompting her and fellow Granite State Sen. Maggie Hassan to call for a bipartisan response to foreign hacking leading up to the 2018 election.

Shaheen said in a statement that none of the attacks were successful and that they are currently under investigation by Senate security and the FBI.

“As Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said, we are on high alert regarding attacks on our cybersecurity,” she wrote. “My office has received phishing emails and suspicious engagement from foreign actors, including on social media, and we have reported them to authorities. Now we are hearing from the intelligence community that the Russians are trying to hack our electrical grid and national security. The Congressional response to these attempts should not be partisan. We must provide a united front and a bipartisan commitment to bolster our cybersecurity and defense.”

Last week, The Daily Beast reported that the Russian intelligence agency responsible for cyberattacks during the 2016 presidential election had targeted Sen. Claire McCaskill with phishing attacks. The Missouri Democrat has been a vocal critic of Russia and is attempting to retain her seat in a hotly contested campaign.

It is too early in the investigation to determine the origin of the attempted cyberattacks against Shaheen’s office, but like McCaskill she has been a frequent irritant to Russia.

She supported sanctions against the country in response to the 2016 election meddling and sponsored legislation, later signed into law, that banned federal agencies from using software from the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs.

Late last year, Shaheen was scheduled to visit Russia as part of a bipartisan Senate delegation but the country denied her a travel visa, prompting the entire trip to be canceled.

Ricki Eshman, a spokesman for Hassan, said she was not aware of any specific attacks against their office but the senator was committed to strengthening cybersecurity given the recent spate of attacks.

News of the phishing attempts targeting Shaheen and McCaskill came as Department of Homeland Security officials told national media outlets last week that Russian hackers had gained access to electric utility companies across the country last year.

On Tuesday, Hassan and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, introduced legislation to establish permanent Department of Homeland Security cyberattack response teams to work with federal agencies and private groups targeted by hackers. A version of the bill passed the House in March.

“Recent reports about phishing attempts also reinforce just how critical it is that the Trump Administration take cybersecurity seriously and do more to strengthen the United States’ ability to disrupt and prevent attacks — whether from Russia or any other bad actor,” Eshman wrote.


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