- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Top lawmakers Wednesday accused the agencies of the Obama administration of failing to coordinate the government’s campaign against data breaches and cyberattacks.

Congressmen questioned the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security’s failure to collaborate with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, a government agency that tracks credit card data.

“Now you’re having a government agency that has 80 percent of all the credit card transactions going on in this country on a daily basis accumulating in their files, and we’re not coordinating with each of you,” Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer, Missouri Republican, said at a hearing by a House Financial Services subcommittee.

“That certainly scares the dickens out of me.”

Data breaches have occupied national attention since Target revealed in December that hackers had obtained access to personal account information on some 40 million of its debit and credit card customers. By coincidence, the subcommittee was meeting just as the news broke that Beth Jacob, Target’s chief information officer, had resigned and the company had begun a search for an interim CIO.

Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico Republican, questioned whether the 2-1/2-year-old Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is doing enough to protect data it gathers.

“This information is widely viewable by almost everybody in the agency and widely accessible, and yet they haven’t even called the best people in the nation,” he said.

Officials from the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security said there have been no requests for help on securing information from the CFPB.

“No, we haven’t been in contact with them directly,” said Larry Zelvin, director of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Pearce said the failure of the Obama administration to analyze the full scope of how many data breaches are conducted a day is “absolutely frightening.” He suggested CFPB officials come to Capitol Hill to brief the committee instead of the Secret Service and Homeland Security.

“Maybe they have better operations than these two guys are able to present, but I find it stunning that they have not even contacted either one of you,” he said.

Others questioned the Secret Service and Homeland Security’s efficiency when gathering overall information in the area of data breaches and cyberattacks.

“Somebody’s got to be tracking the overall picture of the extent and the depth of it and the techniques,” New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney said.

Mr. Zelvin said agencies may not have the access needed to address the scope of the breaches.

“We’re all collecting data in areas that we have the ability to see the information,” Mr. Zelvin said. “We still don’t have the visibility on everything; it is still just a snapshot.”

The subcommittee is looking for legislative solutions to growing concerns among Americans about shopping.

“There is a level of trust necessary for our economy to function in this new virtual era where cash is becoming a preferred method of payment for fewer and fewer people,” said Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, Pennsylvania Republican.

Several cybersecurity officials suggested a law that would create a national standard on reporting data breaches to law enforcement.

They also suggested technological advancements, including a microchip that would take place of a magnetic stripe on a credit card and tokenization that would bar vital account information from being released when using a credit card.

“My wife and I had a breach just yesterday, we identified $4,000 on a credit card,” said Rep. Robert Pittenger, North Carolina Republican.

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