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Cyber-assaults bombard federal computers

WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- Worms, Trojan horses and spyware are infecting computers, with government computers being hacked 1.8 billion times a month, authorities said.

Cybersecurity experts said Congress has a host of problems that range from foreign governments siphoning information from hand-held devices to the origins of the House e-mail system that has an international roster of involvement, Politico reported.

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"Our friends spy on us. Our neighbors spy on us. Our enemies spy on us," said Tom Patterson, chief security officer at MagTek Inc., and a veteran of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive. "It would be ludicrous to assume people aren't listening."

Security experts note that an Israeli company manages the House e-mail project. The equipment is Canadian and the code was written by an Indian firm, while a Chinese company wrote the backup code. A French company makes the switches.

The hack average of 1.8 billion per month was reported recently by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer. The Senate Security Operations Center alone receives 13.9 million cyberattacks a day, the bulk of which are stymied by security software, Gainer said.

President Barack Obama pledged to raise the profile of the cybersecurity issue while he's president and to make government computer systems more secure, observers said. But his first cybersecurity czar resigned during the summer. The current cyberczar, Howard Schmidt, has limited authority, Politico said.

"The administration has to do a better job," said Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who has been asking House leadership to brief members on the extent of the threats. "It has to be ratcheted up whereby it's a really high-profile issue."

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