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Unisys blamed for DHS data breaches

FBI investigating contractor negligence

DHS

Unisys, the IT computer services biz, is in hot water with the US government for allegedly twiddling its thumbs while foreign hackers had their way with Department of Homeland Security computers.

The FBI is investigating Unisys, which holds a $1.7bn DHS security contract, over failing to detect data breaches linked to a Chinese-language website, the Washington Post reported today

The allegations continue that Unisys tried to cover up inadequacies by falsely certifying the DHS network was secure.

On Friday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson urged DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner to launch his own investigation.

"The department is the victim not only of cyber attacks initiated by foreign entities, but of incompetent and possibly illegal activity by the contractor charged with maintaining security on its networks," he wrote in a letter to Skinner.

The Post reports that Unisys failed to properly install and monitor network-intrusion detection devices at DHS headquarters and the Transportation Security Administration.

According to Thompson's letter, evidence obtained by the House Homeland Security Committee claims as many as 150 DHS computers were compromised by hackers. The incidents, however, were not noticed until months later, reports the Post.

Data stolen from the computers was allegedly sent to a Chinese-language website that appears to host hacking tools. The committee said Unisys then falsely certified the network as protected to cover up its oversight.

Unisys fired back at the allegations today, claiming it has evidence to to absolve them — but nothing for the eyes of John Q Public.

"Facts and documentation contradict claims described in the article but federal security regulations preclude public comment on specific incidents," said Unisys in a statement.

"We can state generally that the allegations that Unisys did not properly install essential security systems is incorrect. In addition, we routinely follow prescribed security protocols and have properly reported incidents to the customer in accordance with those protocols," Unisys said.

The US is joined by the UK, Germany, France, Australia and New Zealand in blaming China for an upsurge in hacking attacks against government computers. The Chinese government has denied any involvement in the attacks and claims to be a greater victim in cyber attacks than western nations. ®

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