Security lapses left US system vulnerable

Posted July 29th, 2019 by admin and filed in 杭州夜生活
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US officials say years of cybersecurity lapses have left its governmental personnel agency wide open to hacks that have exposed the private information about nearly every federal employee.

杭州桑拿

Democrats and Republicans on the House oversight and government reform committee were united on Tuesday in heaping scorn upon the leaders of the Office of Personnel Management, the agency whose data was breached last year in two massive cyberattacks only recently revealed.

“You failed utterly and totally,” said the committee’s chairman, Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican.

The criticism came from within, as well. Michael Esser, the agency’s assistant inspector general for audit, told the committee of a years-long inability by OPM to meet federal cybersecurity standards.

For a long time, he said, the people running the agency’s information technology had no expertise. These shortcomings made the agency especially vulnerable to cyberattack, he said.

In November, an inspector-general’s audit recommended that the agency shut down some of its networks because they were so vulnerable, Esser testified. The director, Katherine Archuleta, declined, saying it would interfere with the agency’s mission.

The hackers were already inside her networks, she later acknowledged.

“They recommended it was so bad that you shut it down and you didn’t,” Chaffetz said.

Archuleta, stumbling occasionally under withering questions from lawmakers, sought to defend her tenure and portray the agency’s problems as decades in the making. She appeared to cast blame on her recent predecessors, one of whom, John Berry, is the US ambassador to Australia.

Offered chances to apologise and resign, she declined to do either.

Chaffetz said the two breaches “may be the most devastating cyberattack in our nation’s history”, and said OPM’s security policy was akin to leaving its doors and windows unlocked and expecting nothing to be stolen.

“I am as distressed as you are about how long these systems have gone neglected,” Archuleta said, adding at another point, “The whole of government is responsible and it will take all of us to solve the issue.”

Archuleta and the other witnesses offered few new details about the breaches in the public hearing, deferring most questions about methods and damage to a later, classified session.

After that session, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat, demanded that the committee hear testimony from two OPM contractors, KeyPoint and USIS, that fell victim to hacks last year. Earlier, Cummings and other lawmakers questioned whether the OPM network was compromised first through hacking of the contractors, and OPM officials declined to answer.

During the open hearing, Donna Seymour, the agency’s chief information officer, confirmed that personnel information on 4.2 million current and former federal employees had been stolen, not just accessed.

The number of security clearance holders whose data has been taken is not yet known, she said. But the records go back to 1985 and include contractors as well as federal employees. Some government officials estimate the number could be up to 14 million.

And because their security clearance applications contain personal information about friends and family, those people’s data is vulnerable as well.

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