Feeds

DHS network vulnerable to attack

Remote access security issues

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

The US Department of Homeland Security is having some homeland cyber security issues on its systems providing remote access to telecommuters, according to a newly-released report by the DHS Inspector General's office.

Earlier this year security auditors armed with ISS's Internet Scanner, @stake's L0phtCrack and Sandstorm Enterprises' PhoneSweep 4.0 spent five months probing hosts, attacking passwords and war dialing the Department.

They found that some of the hosts designed to allow home workers and other trusted users access to DHS networks by modem or over the internet lacked the authentication measures called for by official NIST guidelines and recommendations by the National Security Agency, like minimum password lengths and password aging.

Moreover, system patches were not kept up to date, leaving some systems open to known buffer overflows and other exploits. Meanwhile, a war dialing effort against 2,800 DHS phone lines turned up 20 modems that the Department couldn't immediately account for.

"Due to these remote access exposures, there is an increased risk that unauthorized people could gain access to DHS networks and compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information systems and resources," the report concludes.

The audit examined DHS's Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate; the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services; and DHS Management. Only DHS Management proved resistant to L0phtCrack. Of the other three components, passwords were crackable with user name and dictionary attacks at a rate between eight per cent and 37 per cent, with some accounts protected by no password at all.

In a written response attached to the report, Department CIO Steve Cooper said some of the auditors' concerns were overstated: The systems suffering known vulnerabilities were waiting for patches to come out of testing, and any genuine effort at password hacking would be hobbled by the Department's policy of limiting failed login attempts, wrote Cooper.

"As we complete the transition to Windows 2003 on most of our networks, it will be impossible to have a password that does not comply with DHS complexity requirements," he wrote.

Copyright © 2004, SecurityFocus logo

Related stories

Proposed Homeland Security Czar scratched
US Homeland Security Czar resigns
Uncle Sam demands all air travel records

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.