McConnell Calls for Stronger OPM Response after ‘One of the worst breaches in U.S. History’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the OPM cyber attack:

“Here's a headline from an Associated Press article that ran yesterday: ‘Federal Agencies Are Wide Open To Hackers, Cyberspies’

“That headline is scary enough. But read just a little further, and it gets even worse.

Passwords written down on desks. Outdated anti-virus software. 'Perceived ineptitude' in information technology departments.
The federal government, which holds secrets and sensitive information ranging from nuclear blueprints to the tax returns of hundreds of millions of Americans, has for years failed to take basic steps to protect its data from hackers and thieves, records show.
In the latest example, the Office of Personnel Management is under fire for allowing its databases to be plundered by suspected Chinese cyberspies in what is being called one of the worst breaches in U.S. history. OPM repeatedly neglected to implement basic cybersecurity protections, its internal watchdog told Congress.

“Let me repeat that. ‘One of the worst breaches in U.S. History.’
“If you're looking for a something scary to tell the kids around the campfire tonight, I'd suggest reading the rest of the article. It gets a lot worse.
“To call this alarming would be quite an understatement.
“So when the head of the agency that allowed that big breach to happen testified before a Senate committee yesterday, you think she would've come with a detailed action plan. You think she would've announced that heads were rolling. You'd think she'd have said this could never, ever be allowed to happen again under her watch.
“That’s what the American people expect when a breach happens in the private sector and information is stolen. Why shouldn’t they expect as much from the public sector too?

“But what did we hear instead?

“World-class buck-passing. A complete lack of accountability and urgency. The tired and predictable excuse that the absence of leadership can be solved by throwing a few more dollars at a problem.

“Congress can certainly look at the funding angle. I know we will. But as we learned yesterday, it wasn't just the old stuff that was breached – it was the new stuff too. More money isn't going to solve a management problem either. And let's be honest: this appears primarily to be a management problem.
“Here’s what the American people were really looking for the OPM Director to address.

“Accountability, a plan for the future, and confidence in the ability of the bureaucracy they hire — and rarely, if ever, can fire — to break out of the stereotype and show they can put the peoples’ concerns first.
“I thank Chairman Boozman for holding that hearing.

“We learned a lot.

“But it's not the end of the story.

“The OPM Director will testify tomorrow before Chairman Johnson's Homeland Security committee too.

“I hope she'll take that opportunity to articulate a credible plan of action. I hope she'll better address the legitimate concerns of the American people.

“That means showing a resolve to get to the bottom of what happened, that means giving the American people renewed confidence in a creaking bureaucracy, and that means pledging to work with policymakers to enact real reforms rather than accepting failure.

“Whatever happens tomorrow, one thing doesn't change: the need for the Intelligence Committee’s cybersecurity bill we tried to pass earlier this month.

“I'll continue working with my colleagues to that end.

“In the meantime, I look forward to seeing what happens in tomorrow's committee meeting.”

Related Issues: Cybersecurity