Dept. of Homeland Security Computers Vulnerable

By: Robert Siciliano  |  October 20, 2015

antivirusThere’s a problem on the home front: security lapses in the computers of the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, says a report on These departments were recently audited, and weaknesses were revealed.

Recently, hackers gained access into the respective computer networks of the White House, State Department, and the Office of Personnel Management, among other entities. And this has caused the public to wonder about just how strong cybersecurity is for the U.S. government. So thus, the audit was carried out.

The root of the problem may be inadequate training of the investigators and analysts for the Department of Homeland Security. This seems to have stemmed from Congress cutting corners with the training budget. The internal websites for the Secret Service and ICE were shown to be deficient.

How many employees are in the Department of Homeland Security? 240,000. That’s a lot of potential for inadequate training to result in the accidental opening of a back door for hackers.

The audit made nine recommendations to the DHS. The DHS has reported that it’s been making efforts to address these recommendations.

  • The Secret Service and ICE are responsible for coming down on financial fraud, money laundering, identity theft and fraud involving banks and credit cards.
  • The National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) was also audited, and this entity is responsible for the security of government computers.
  • ICE, the Secret Service and the NPPD blame Congress for the security lapses. They point out that Congress has a stop-and-go style of funding for cybersecurity, because Congress will not authorize ongoing funding throughout the year.
  • In fact, an ICE analyst revealed that he had to pay out of pocket for cybersecurity training, and thanks to the limited budget for this, was not able to attend formal training in four years.

The report states that employees may not be able to perform assigned incident responses to a cyber attack, nor efficiently investigate such an incident, as long as training was come-and-go and only peppered throughout the DHS instead of being department-wide.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing  identity theft prevention.

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