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Press Release

Westerman, Gosar Investigate DOI's Classified Material Vulnerabilities

  • OI Subcommittee

Today, in light of recent high-profile leaks of classified U.S. government documents, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland, requesting information on DOI's plans to mitigate hacking and cybersecurity threats. In part, the members wrote:

"Hacking and cybersecurity threats by private individuals or, more alarmingly, state-sponsored attacks, are not new to DOI. On January 3, 2023, the Office of the Inspector General for DOI released a report finding that DOI’s 'management practices and password complexity requirements were not sufficient to prevent potential unauthorized access to its systems and data.' The report also found a staggering 21% of active accounts had passwords that were easily breached in a simulated cybersecurity attack, including hundreds of senior service employees. The report further notes that the infamous Colonial Pipeline breach of 2021 could be traced to a single stolen password..."

"Although information security breaches are not new, the Committee is particularly concerned about the vulnerability of DOI’s assets to classified material leaks, and the Department’s ability to prepare for and prevent systemic attacks from both internal and external threats. The Committee requests a briefing on the timeline for the implementation of the Inspector General’s recommendations. The briefing should also include any additional internal or external findings related to DOI’s assets, their vulnerabilities and the Department’s actions to prepare for cyberthreats from both internal and external sources."

Read the full letter here.