Peters Convenes Second Hearing with Top Federal Cybersecurity Officials to Discuss Recent Breaches and Attacks Against U.S. Systems

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today convened a hearing with senior federal cybersecurity officials to examine last year’s SolarWinds hack, other subsequent breaches and how the federal government can better protect agency information systems from intrusions that compromise national security. The hearing also discussed the need to update requirements for sharing information about online attacks across the federal government and with Congress.

“Although it can often be difficult to understand the complexity and severity of some of these attacks from the outside, they have a significant cost on our national security. In many cases, these attacks can also affect our daily lives, as we saw with the recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline that was reported over the weekend,” said Peters during his opening statement. “That is why I have continued to push for commonsense legislation to strengthen our response to these hostile assaults – whether they come from foreign adversaries or criminal actors who seek to harm our country,”

Peters continued: “Our foreign adversaries, like the Chinese and Russian governments, do not rest. To successfully thwart their relentless assaults on American systems, we need to recognize they do not view the federal government as separate agencies, but as a single target.”

This was the second hearing Peters convened as Chairman to examine how lawmakers and federal cyber experts can improve efforts to safeguard federal networks against attacks. Peters pressed the officials on how they determine the severity of breaches, and what resources and reforms are needed to strengthen defenses against online assaults and mitigate the effects of future attacks.

Testifying before the committee were: Brandon Wales, Acting Director, Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Ryan A. Higgins, Chief Information Security Officer, U.S. Department of Commerce; and Janet Vogel, Chief Information Security Officer, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks, click here. For text of Peters’ opening remarks as prepared, click here.

To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions and closing remarks, click here. 

As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led efforts to bolster our nation’s cybersecurity defenses. As a part of the American Rescue Plan Act, Peters helped secure and enact nearly $2 billion to modernize and secure information systems critical to the federal pandemic response. The Senate, last month, also passed his provision to help protect our nation’s public water information technology systems. Peters also recently introduced bipartisan legislation to provide additional resources and better coordination for serious cyber-attacks against public and private networks. Peters has also pushed bipartisan legislation to improve access to cybersecurity resources and training for small businesses and to support K-12 schools with the resources they need to bolster their cybersecurity.