Tags: Barack Obama | China | hackers | federal government | Adam Schiff

WaPo: Is the Government Trustworthy Enough to Prevent Hacks?

By    |   Monday, 08 Jun 2015 04:23 PM

A new report questions whether the federal government can be trusted with personal information following the "disturbing" intrusion that saw hackers steal records tied to 4 million current and former federal employees.

In The Washington Post, Joe Davidson wonders whether the government is capable of keeping data safe and out of the hands of hackers.

The Office of Personnel Management "says a 'cybersecurity incident,' revealed on Thursday, was detected in April. 'Incident' is small word for a big theft, a serious and far-reaching hijacking that endangers the personal information, including Social Security numbers, of 4 million current and former federal employees. The cybertheft began in December," Davidson writes.

"But it's not the word choice that has federal workers and members of Congress upset. It's the three T's — trust, times and time."

There have been several other hacking incidents that have resulted in millions of Americans having their personal information stolen. The latest example, according to investigators, points at Chinese hackers as the culprits.

"The number of reported information security incidents involving personally identifiable information (PII) has more than doubled over the last several years" at federal agencies, according to the Government Accountability Office, reports the Post.

Those figures, according to data cited by the Post, break down to 10,481 in fiscal year 2009 and 25,566 in 2013.

According to the Inspector General, which conducted an audit last fall, "the drastic increase in the number of systems operating without a valid Authorization is alarming and represents a systemic issue of inadequate planning by OPM program offices to authorize the information systems that they own," reports the Post.

The OPM defended itself, saying in the Post story it "took action in February 2014 and developed an aggressive plan to bolster our IT networks and databases and adopt state-of-the-art security protocols."

There was another cyberattack on OPM servers in March 2014, although employees were not made aware of the incident until the summer. That caused both federal workers and members of Congress to vent their frustrations.

"OPM needs to do what they should have done weeks ago and personally contact each current and former employee impacted and provide all of their resources to help our civil servants deal with this intrusion," Rep. Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat, told the Post.

Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., said the "reported breach is part of a troubling pattern by this agency in failing to secure the personal data of federal employees — the second major breach in a year. We cannot afford to keep dragging our feet in addressing the escalating threats posed by hackers out to steal individuals' personal information."

Davidson called the latest hack "disturbing."

"As disturbing as all this is, at least the credit rating of feds might not be at risk," he writes. "As my colleague Ellen Nakashima reported, the Chinese allegedly stole the information possibly to build their own database of federal employees, not to make bogus flat-screen television purchases at Target, which was the victim of an earlier hack attack."

President Barack Obama said Monday the rate of cyberattacks on American servers will only increase in the coming years, and pointed to the government's aging computer systems.

"The scale of it is just staggering," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. There's no telling how many more attacks could be spawned by the information stolen in this case, he said.

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A new report questions whether the federal government can be trusted with personal information following the disturbing intrusion that saw hackers steal records tied to 4 million current and former federal employees.
China, hackers, federal government, Adam Schiff
565
2015-23-08
Monday, 08 Jun 2015 04:23 PM
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