Feeds

Hate keeping your systems updated and secure? So does Uncle Sam

Report shows security lapses rampant in government agencies

The Power of One Infographic

A Senate report has cast doubt on the ability of many of the US's largest government agencies to properly secure and maintain their systems.

The report, authored by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and his fellow Republican members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, detailed incidents in government agencies that ranged from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy to the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Education.

The committee noted that in many cases agencies have failed to maintain everyday security measures and best practices for protecting data. Reported incidents included SEC officials carrying sensitive data on personal devices and accounts, the use of outdated and unpatched software by federal agencies, and the use of unsecured and unencrypted hard drives to handle sensitive data.

"Federal guidelines are clear: when an agency identifies a weakness in its IT security, officials must record the problem, find a way to fix it, and assign themselves a deadline for completion," the report reads.

"As officials make progress and the weakness is eventually remedied, officials are supposed to update their records. Without that basic system in place, neither the agency nor the administration can tell if vulnerabilities are being addressed."

Among the incidents cataloged in the report is the 2013 release of a false Emergency Broadcast warning claiming a zombie attack, which aired in Michigan, Montana, and North Dakota.

Other incidents noted in the report included an Army Corps of Engineers breach of dam security information, and the revelation that Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials kept plant data on unsecured drives.

The committee members said that the incidents underscore lapses in security among government agencies which should be addressed as agencies move to increase their work with the private sector.

"Over more than a decade, the federal government has struggled to implement a mandate to protect its own IT systems from malicious attacks," the report reads.

"As we move forward on this national strategy to boost the cybersecurity of our nation's critical infrastructure, we cannot overlook the critical roles played by many government operations, and the dangerous vulnerabilities which persist in their information systems." ®

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Sit back down, Julian Assange™, you're not going anywhere just yet
Swedish court refuses to withdraw arrest warrant
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
British cops cuff 660 suspected paedophiles
Arrests people allegedly accessing child abuse images online
LightSquared backer sues FCC over spectrum shindy
Why, we might as well have been buying AIR
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.