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Tags: Cybersecurity | federal agencies | cyberattacks | report | security

Report: Federal Agencies Fail to Take Steps to Protect Personal Data of Americans

hacker working on laptop with lock icon on screen
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 03 August 2021 09:31 AM

Federal agencies have not implemented some basic measures to protect the personal data of millions of Americans from cyberattacks, according to a report from the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

The 47-page report, which evaluated two years of inspector general reports, said the federal agencies responsible for safeguarding the data, earned a C- grade for not meeting federally mandated standards, CBS News reported.

Eight key agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the Social Security Administration, were audited and accused of  relying on outdated systems, not heeding mandatory security patches, and not protecting data such as names, social security numbers, and credit card numbers, CBS News reported.

Also included in the evaluation were the departments of Agriculture, Transportation,  Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Health and Human Services, and Education.

"All agencies failed to comply with statutory requirements to certify to Congress they have implemented certain key cybersecurity requirements including encryption of sensitive data, least privilege, and multi-factor authentication," the report said.

There were 30,819 information security incidents across the federal government reported in 2020 — a jump of 8% from the previous year, the report noted.

It said HUD’s inspector general found an "unauthorized 'shadow IT'" system on the agency's network that "existed without approved authorities to operate."

And CBS News noted the report also said the State Department was unable to provide documents accounting for 60% of its workers who had access who had access to a classified network.

The Washington Post noted the Transportation Department inspector general discovered almost 15,000 IT devices, including more than 7,000 phones, that were being used by workers for which the agency had no record.

The newspaper said the report also said: "It is clear that the data entrusted to these eight key agencies remains at risk. As hackers, both state-sponsored and otherwise, become increasingly sophisticated and persistent, Congress and the executive branch cannot continue to allow [personally identifiable information] and national security secrets to remain vulnerable."

The findings, which come after a series of breaches in the past 10 years, show the government is not prepared to withstand hacks from Russia, China and elsewhere, the Post said.

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Federal agencies have not implemented some basic measures to protect the personal data of millions of Americans from cyberattacks, according to a report from the Senate Homeland Security Committee...
federal agencies, cyberattacks, report, security
357
2021-31-03
Tuesday, 03 August 2021 09:31 AM
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