DHS struggles with mobile device management

The Homeland Security Department is struggling with managing all its mobile devices, and faces challenges in leveraging smart phones, tablets and laptop to increase workforce productivity, according to an inspector general.

The IG's audit found DHS had implemented some policies, procedures and training to better govern, track, categorize and secure portable devices. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Transportation Security Administration have developed specific mobile device strategies and procedures. Both agencies also educate its workforce on the acceptable use of mobile devices.

But these efforts need to be complemented by policies and procedures to govern the use and accountability of mobile devices, the IG said, and DHS as a whole needs to adopt a stronger security posture to protect mobile devices and the sensitive data stored on them.

The report also found that some DHS components generally don’t consider USB drives as sensitive assets, nor do they inventory them in accordance with DHS policies. Officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said the low cost and unencrypted nature of thumb drives led them to believe it wouldn’t be necessary to catalog said devices.

USCIS officials also said it was not logistically efficient to record thumb drives in their asset management system. In the event a device is lost, USCIS officials said the property custodians would have to fill out paperwork, get it signed, and add it to the asset management system to document the loss.
 
The IG’s recommendations called on the DHS CIO to update asset management policies so that thumb drives are categorized as sensitive personal property. Another recommendation was that the CIO beef up the agency’s annual IT security awareness training to educate about the risks of government-issued mobile devices. Additionally, the IG suggested the CIO to collaborate with the CIO at Immigration and Customs Enforcement to ensure Android and iOS-based devices adhere to DHS guidance.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.