Last Pizza My Mind was hosted Randy Vickers and Steven Moxley, members of the computer response team for the United States House of Representatives. Randy Vickers is a former DOD employee who works to prevent breaches on the representatives systems and to protect the entire network from potential security risks. Steven Moxley is an application security analyst who works under Vickers.
Both men, as well as their team, are responsible for the technical security of all 435 members of the House of Representatives individual applications as well as the backbone of the entire infrastructure used by all employees.
Unlike most security jobs, Representatives have a right to privacy even within the security team on a much higher level than a standard employee. Campaign information is specifically protected by the constitution as well as private data, and data on speeches and debates. As a result permission must be acquired specifically from the relevant representative in order to take data outside of the building. This is a layer of complexity most security jobs do not possess on the same level.
The most notable challenge is the maintaining of the right of petition. Anyone has the right to address their representative through email which creates a large number of emails that must be monitored to prevent malicious code from getting through. For example when the emails are gathered and sorted they must be careful to prevent attempts to access data during this time. If malicious code is missed or if a representative opens something hazardous to the network then the email or file is quarantined and the file is blocked by the firewall if possible. In more extreme cases then the computer will be taken off of the network temporarily.
Steven Moxley presented a map of activity to the representatives website from all over the world. He emphasized that uses in other countries can be suspect as well as US access as most competent hackers are able spoof their location when attempting to access the website. It is these challenges that set apart the position from others. The list of potential threats can be daunting as well as an intriguing challenge.
The balancing act of so many different types of sensitive data combined with insight into how difficult it is to maintain a simple constitutional right that most people take for granted is something I had never considered. Vickers gives a very interesting perspective on the inner workings of his response team and the struggles they must deal with to keep the House of Representatives running. This is the first chance most students have likely had in understanding how the back end of such a team works. If this interests you then it might be beneficial to ask future employers about their contracts and whether or not they may be a way to experience work at the House of Representatives. The vast majority of their positions are contracted so this is the best way to approach the possibility.
No paid internships exist at the moment but unpaid internships do exist if you live in the D.C. area. You can also visit their office individually if you would like to learn more.
Follow the link below to see the site for House of Representatives.