Senate Security Hole Enables Partisan Spying

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-01-22 Print this article Print

GOP staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee accessed and shared secret Democratic strategy documents for at least a year, The Boston Global reports.

According to the Boston Globe, Republican staff members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee exploited a security hole in the committees servers for at least a year to access and share secret Democratic memos. The security breach has drawn the attention of the office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms, which has launched an investigation into how portions of 15 strategy memos ended up in conservative media outlets, The Globe reported on Thursday. Computer experts from General Dynamics Corp. and the U.S. Secret Service are helping in the investigation, in which about 120 people have been interviewed and a half dozen computers have been seized, according to the article. GOP staffers were able to access Democratic files because of a glitch dating back to 2001, when a computer technicians mistake left files on a shared committee server accessible without a password, The Globe reported.
Many of the documents accessed outlined Democratic strategies for handling judicial nominations, the newspaper reported. Senate Democrats have staged a series of high-profile filibusters over President Bushs judicial nominations.
To read The Globes full story, click here. Various congressional efforts have been made to improve data security within government offices. For example, in the fall, a legislative effort was floated to beef up the federal governments computer security by discouraging peer-to-peer networking. Dubbed the "Government Network Security Act," by Reps. Tom Davis, R-Va., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the bill proposed that federal agencies develop technical policies and workforce training to protect computers from the risks of confidential information being disclosed through file-sharing. Also in the summer, lawmakers pushed vendors and network operators do everything possible to make the nations cyber-infrastructure secure. Even legislation dictating IT security requirements—regarded as a last resort—was put in the works. To read more about the legislation and discussion, click here.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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