Congressman: Telecommuting can’t happen until computer systems are better protected from hackers

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Rep. John Katko, R-New York, says more needs to be done to protect the Congressional computer system from hackers.

Katko said each month, there are more than 1 billion attempts to hack into the Congressional computer system. With the added pressure of the coronavirus pandemic, Katko said its important now more than ever to ensure Congress can safely conduct business while away from the Capitol.

“We are not as secure as we need to be,” Katko said.

Katko said in order for Congress to begin having remote hearings, debates and votes, they need to invest in additional cybersecurity, and, until that happens, it’s better to keep meeting in person.

“We’ve got to just listen to the experts and when they tell us this is more secure than it is now, I’ll accept it,” Katko said.

Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NewChoice, says the push to improve cybersecurity is “a silver lining” of the coronavirus crisis.

“This is a great opportunity for some much-needed cybersecurity hygiene for Congress,” he said.

Szabo said two-factor authentication between staffers and members is a great first step.

“It’s verifying that you have some other component to make sure you are who you say you are, Szabo explained.

Szabo also said there’s a way for lawmakers to ensure votes are authentic.

“Rather than doing a simple up, down on the vote, actually record a video of them doing the vote that way they can say the bill number and can say some keynote or catchphrase,” Szabo said.

For now, House leadership continues to negotiate how to change the rules to allow for remote voting.

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