US Congress to undergo cybersecurity overhaul

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Training and malware scans on the agenda.

For the first time, the U.S. House of Representatives will require its staff and members to take part in an annual IT security training program -- one of the mandates under new policy set to take effect next year.

Congressional leaders this week accepted five new cybersecurity policy recommendations aimed at protecting sensitive information belonging to the House of Representatives and securing its IT systems from attack.

The proposed changes were crafted by Daniel Beard, the House's chief administrative officer, who was asked by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner to conduct an assessment of the lower chamber's information security policies.

The new guidelines, set to take effect next year, require all House staff and members to undergo an annual cybersecurity training program, according to a letter from Beard to his House colleagues. Employees who travel out of the country will be required to have their wireless devices and laptops screened for malware prior to departing and upon returning.

In addition, the rules dictate that any sensitive information be encrypted when stored on mobile devices, and properly protected when being transmitted across a public network. Mobile devices, such as iPhones and BlackBerries, also must be password protected and locked when not in use.

The new policy also calls for the House to deploy additional firewall protocols.

Leaders called on Beard to oversee the review after a now-fired junior staffer for the House Standards Committee leaked confidential information on a peer-to-peer network, a spokesman for the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer told The document that the staffer leaked contained information into the ethics probes of a number of Congressional members and their aides.

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