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Public Domain Pictures

Reports are rippling across the web — starting with the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo — of suspicious wireless network activity that could point to a significant hack. A Congressional office says it received a report that there was odd activity on T-Mobile's network in the Washington D.C. area.

The details:

  • A program called ESD Overwatch run by a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security detected the unusual activity, according to the Free Beacon and others. The pilot reportedly monitors cellular infrastructure for security threats.
  • Last week Rep. Ted Lieu's office was notified of a potential hack of T-Mobile's network in D.C. by a "cybersecurity expert," according to a spokesman. Lieu's office was told that this may have been related to vulnerabilities in a global mobile network known as SS7, short for Signaling System 7. SS7 is crucial for to connecting calls, and gaps in security could allow hackers to secretly re-route and eavesdrop on calls. Vulnerabilities in the system were the subject of a 60 Minutes report last year that featured Lieu and caught policymakers' attention.
  • On Wednesday Lieu and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, another privacy hawk, wrote to DHS about those vulnerabilities. "Our office has been in contact with DHS regarding reports of anomalous cellular network activity, which may involve the SS7 system," said a spokesman for Wyden in an email.

Why it matters: The vulnerabilities of the SS7 network got a lot of attention from lawmakers after the 60 Minutes segment re-routed Rep. Lieu's calls and listened in to his conversations (with his consent) to illustrate the hacking capabilities. At the time, the FCC said it would look into the issue. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Renewed concerns could put more heat on lawmakers and agencies to more concretely address the vulnerabilities.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.