DHS Documents Shed Light on Kemp Network Scan Gripe

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today released a series of exchanges from December 2016 to February 2017 between the department and members of Congress revealing Sen. Brian Kemp’s, R-Ga., accusation that DHS conducted unauthorized scans of Georgia’s Secretary of State networks and DHS’s denial of the accusation.

During the exchanges, Kemp was Georgia’s Secretary of State.  He began in December 2016 by writing to both then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and then-President Elect Donald Trump requesting an investigation of DHS for trying to penetrate his office’s network on Nov. 15, 2016 and on other occasions throughout that year.

Johnson denied that DHS cybersecurity experts scanned Kemp’s office networks and responded that DHS identified that a contractor from its Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia accessed Kemp’s website as “part of his normal job duties” and “indicates normal Microsoft Internet Explorer interaction by the contractor’s computer with [Kemp’s] website.”

Former House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also wrote to then-DHS Inspector General (IG) John Roth in January 2017 further supporting Kemp, however, and said Johnson did not provide adequate evidence to back his claim and therefore require further investigation.

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“In Secretary Johnson’s one-page response and his staff’s telephonic briefings, DHS did not provide adequate information to verify or validate any of those statements,” Chaffetz said. “We also question the Department’s ability to remain neutral in investigating its own potential misconduct and think an independent investigation of these incidents is warranted.”

Chaffetz also wrote to Johnson requesting any documents relevant to the accusation for the committee and IG to review.

Acting DHS Under Secretary for Management Chip Fulghum responded saying he was willing to cooperate with an investigation.

After investigating, Roth later reported in June 2017 that DHS did not hack the Georgia Secretary of State network.

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