The Homeland Security Department, the lead U.S. agency for fighting cyber threats, suffered more than 800 hacker break-ins, virus outbreaks and other computer security problems over two years, senior officials acknowledged to Congress.
In one instance, hacker tools for stealing passwords and other files were found on two internal Homeland Security computer systems. The agency's headquarters sought forensic help from the department's own Security Operations Center and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team it operates with Carnegie Mellon University.
In other cases, computer workstations in the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration were infected with malicious software detected trying to communicate with outsiders; laptops were discovered missing; and agency Web sites suffered break-ins.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said such problems undermine the government's efforts to encourage companies and private organizations to improve cyber security.
"What the department is doing on its own networks speaks so loudly that the message is not getting across," Thompson said.
Congressional investigators, expected to testify Wednesday during an oversight hearing about the department's security lapses, determined that persistent weaknesses "threaten the confidentiality, integrity and availability of key DHS information and information systems," according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office being released later in June.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Posted by Audrey Hudson at Wednesday, June 20, 2007