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20 June 2007, 17:33

Security vulnerabilities at US Department of Homeland Security

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It should be secure, but the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) computer system appears to have some big holes in it. Experts are talking about more than 800 serious incidents at the DHS in 2005 and 2006 - cracking incidents, virus problems, digital intruders stealing data from the government agency's pages. That intruders have repeatedly gained access to the computer network of the very department responsible for protection from cyber attacks was reported at committee hearings back in April. The agency's embarrassing security vulnerabilities will be debated in detail today at a hearing tellingly entitled "Hacking the Homeland". It's not going to be an easy ride for DHS head of security Scott Charbo, who will be meeting representatives of the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO managers responsible for information security and technology have been invited to the hearing as expert witnesses and are unlikely to make it easy for the department's representatives. According to a briefing document for the committee hearing, the GAO experts will submit a detailed report on one specific DHS network which is "riddled with significant information security control weaknesses that place sensitive and personally identifiable information at increased risk of unauthorized disclosure." Officially such security problems have only affected non-confidential computer networks - nevertheless, department representatives have admitted to incidents in which transactions classified as confidential have been transmitted "uncleanly" or have landed in e-mail systems which were not intended for such processes. (tpa/Telepolis) /


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