Susan Collins eyes China, Russia, Iran after cyber attack on U.S. government

Good morning from Augusta, where another day has come and gone without a budget deal.

Regular readers may be tired of hearing about lawmakers’ inability to come together around a two-year, multi-billion dollar spending plan, but the stakes are raised with each passing day that a deal isn’t reached. For the latest, check out Chris Cousins’ story from last night.

We’re in the fluid, fast-moving part of the legislative session now, so keep checking for updates throughout the day and over the weekend, as top lawmakers keep seeking a way over the seemingly huge budget impasse.

And while you’re at it, pass along this URL to anyone else who may want to stay up to date with what’s going on under the dome by signing up to receive the Daily Brief in their inbox every morning. — Mario Moretto.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post, as well as the emailed version of it, contained an error regarding committee schedules for the day. LD 369 was work shopped Thursday, and is not on the schedule for Friday. The error was mine. — Mario.

Collins, King press for new cybersecurity law after latest attack

Maine Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, Photos by Troy Bennett (BDN) and Joshua Roberts (Reuters).

Officials in Washington increasingly believe that a cyber attack that may have compromised personal information of about 4 million government employees was the handiwork of a foreign government.

Among those officials is our own senior U.S. senator, Susan Collins.

“While we still do not know for certain who is behind this attack, it has the hallmarks of a sophisticated attack, and we know there are countries who currently possess the capabilities to conduct such an attack, including Russia, China, and Iran,” said Collins, a Republican, in a statement released Thursday night.

Collins said the attack — wherever it was from — represented a “clear call to action” for Congress to pass a cyber-security law. Both she and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, have supported the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, which won bipartisan support on the Senate Intelligence Committee but has yet to see a vote in the Senate.

The law would allow government agencies and private businesses to share information about cyber attacks and mitigation efforts. The idea is that increased collaboration would help shield public and private systems from such attacks, or hasten the response when they happen.

“While no law can prevent every cyber-attack, a new law would make a real difference in strengthening our defenses and improving upon the current lack of critical communication and cooperation between the private sector and the government about these dangerous threats,” Collins said.

King, who serves with Collins on the Intelligence Committee, also sounded the alarm on Thursday, saying he feared “the next target could be our electric grid, our financial systems, or another vital part of our national infrastructure.”

“How many breaches do we have to endure, how many Americans have to be put at risk, before Congress takes action on this incredibly pressing and serious issue?” he said. “I continue to strongly urge my colleagues to immediately consider cybersecurity legislation. The American people deserve better.” — Mario Moretto. Photos by the BDN’s Troy Bennett (King) and Reuters’ Joshua Roberts (Collins).

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World Tour of Maine

Back when I was at UMaine, a little-known singer-songwriter called Lady Lamb the Beekeeper and a really fun dancepunk band called Feel It Robot announced what they called a “World Tour of Maine.”

The idea was to play small venues and house parties in many of the Maine towns named after foreign cities. Troy, Rome, Paris, Naples, the list goes on. I’m not sure how the tour went, but the ambition and the idea were awesome. (Even if the tour went badly, things worked out OK: Lady Lamb is now hugely popular and members of Feel It Robot went on to play in When Particles Collide and Chamberlain, which are both awesome bands.)

Anyway, I was reminded of this “World Tour of Maine” idea yesterday when the BDN’s resident quizmaster, Pattie Reaves, released a new one designed to test your knowledge of Maine’s foreign-based place names. Check it out, and see how you do.

And I don’t think the Feel It Robot guys or Lady Lamb would be the least bit upset if someone else did the World Tour of Maine. I’d probably show up for a house party in Palermo. — Mario Moretto.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.