By Ben Bain
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has notified nearly 100 organizations in the public and private sectors that sensitive information from their computer networks has been shared and is available on peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks, the commission announced on Feb. 22.
The FTC urged the organizations to review security practices to ensure that they comply with the law. The commission also recommended the organizations identify the people affected and consider whether to notify them that their information is available on P2P networks.
“Unfortunately, companies and institutions of all sizes are vulnerable to serious P2P-related breaches, placing consumers’ sensitive information at risk. For example, we found health-related information, financial records, and drivers’ license and social security numbers -- the kind of information that could lead to identity theft,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement.
Commercial P2P programs allow users to easily share videos, music and other data but have also been used to extract sensitive information from users' computers without the victims' knowledge.
On Capitol Hill last year, a confidential document that listed ongoing investigations of lawmakers’ activities made its way from the secretive House Ethics Committee into newspaper headlines. The document was inadvertently disclosed by a committee staffer who used P2P software while working from home.
One bill to prevent the inadvertent disclosure of information on a computer through P2P networks without prior consent passed the House last December. Meanwhile, government employees and contractors would generally be prohibited from installing or using open-network P2P file-sharing software on all federal computers, systems and networks under a separate bill that was introduced in the House last November.
Posted on Feb 23, 2010 at 6:53 PM0 comments
A Senate hearing scheduled for Feb. 23 may generate some interesting cybersecurity tidbits.
Former director of national intelligence Michael McConnell is scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee about what is needed to protect the country’s critical infrastructure from cyberthreats. The hearing is scheduled for 2:30 pm in Room 253 of the Russell Senate Office Building.
Dennis Blair, the current director and McConnell’s successor, made news earlier this month when he gave the Senate Select Intelligence Committee a blunt assessment about national cybersecurity.
“The national security of the United States, our economic prosperity and the daily functioning of our government are dependent on a dynamic public and private information infrastructure, which includes telecommunications, computer networks and systems, and the information residing within. This critical infrastructure is severely threatened,” Blair said.
During his tenure as director, McConnell, a retired Navy vice admiral, played a central role in the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative started by former President George W. Bush in January 2008. McConnell now works for the Booz Allen Hamilton consultancy.
Posted on Feb 19, 2010 at 12:09 PM0 comments
During a press conference
Feb. 9, Melissa Hathaway, the Obama administration’s former acting senior director for cyberspace, said the strongest ally the cyber coordinator needs or should have is in the Office of Management and Budget.
“I found that when I was in the White House, and even when I was in the [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] that that was really an important partnership to have, because that really is where all things kind of begin and end is with the budget,” Hathaway said.
FCW recently reported that Howard Schmidt, Obama’s newly minted cyber czar, said he’s encouraged that federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra see his position as an enabler to information technology innovation, not as a roadblock.
“I think if you pick your partnerships and your alliances wisely, you’ll be able to get a lot of things done,” Hathaway said of the cyber coordinator, a position that she said she likes to view as the quarterback for harnessing the government’s capabilities
Posted on Feb 11, 2010 at 11:20 AM0 comments