Questions about cell phone security hit home for a Republican lawmaker in the Congress late this week, as several hours after the posting of a series of unintelligible tweets, the personal Twitter account of Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) was deactivated on Friday, with Long’s office saying his cell phone had been hacked.
“The first hack was yesterday and the Congressman reset his password thinking that would solve the problem,” Long’s Press Secretary Hannah Smith said in an email on Friday.
“However, this morning his phone was hacked again and he thought it was best to have his Twitter account deactivated until he returns to Washington, D.C. so he can have the House tech staff can examine his phone,” Smith added.
Long, who was first elected in 2010, regularly uses his personal Twitter account of @auctnr1 to comment on daily topics in the news – for example, retweeting in recent days a variety of articles on North Korea, the crude comments of comedian Samantha Bee, and the trade actions of President Trump.
But what came from Long’s Twitter account four different times on Thursday and Friday was simply gibberish, mixed in with the Congressman’s normal tweets.
These three were from Friday morning:
The first indication of trouble came early on Thursday morning, with a tweet that made no sense:
It wasn’t immediately clear if Long’s email, or any other items related to his work in Congress had been compromised.
The hack of Long’s phone and Twitter account came amid questions over security measures – or a lack thereof – for a personal cell phone used by President Donald Trump, and questions about the unauthorized use of cell-site simulators, to eavesdrop on electronic communications in the nation’s capital.
In a May 22 letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), officials at the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that “anomalous activity” had been observed in 2017 of possible efforts to track and monitor cellular communications and devices in Washington, D.C.
The letter said those cell trackers had been noted possibly working near ‘potentially sensitive facilities like the White House,’ but Wyden was told that it was never confirmed whether the trackers were real or not.
Two years ago, a pair of lawmakers urged their colleagues on Capitol Hill to pay more attention to the risks of hacking and eavesdropping, as Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) expressed the need for lawmakers to be more vigilant – both for their own personal cyber safety, as well as that of their Congressional offices.
“Your devices will be subject to continuing cyber attacks,” the two wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter to all House members.