Security culture needed in government

ADD THE AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT TO THE GROWING LIST OF FEDERAL AGENCIES THAT HAVE FALLEN VICTIM TO HACKER ATTACKS. ONCE AGAIN IT APPEARS THAT NO SENSITIVE INFORMATION WAS COMPROMISED BUT THIS LATEST UNLAWFUL INTRUSION SERVED TO HIGHLIGHT THE SEEMING EASE WITH WHICH FEDERAL SYSTEMS CAN BE COMPROMISED AND UNDERSCORE THE NEED TO PUT TEETH INTO THE LAWS THAT PROTECT THESE SYSTEMS.

THE HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE AND REP. CONSTANCE MORELLA (R-MD.) ARE SOON EXPECTED TO UNVEIL A MUCH-ANTICIPATED REFRESH TO THE COMPUTER SECURITY ACT. NOW 10 YEARS OLD THE LEGISLATION WHICH WAS DESIGNED TO ESTABLISH MINIMUM SECURITY STANDARDS FOR GUARDING FEDERAL SYSTEMS HAS BEEN OUTMODED BY TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES AS WELL AS AGENCIES' EVER-INCREASING DEPENDENCE ON INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND THE INTERNET.

WHILE WE APPLAUD CONGRESSIONAL EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN THE LEGISLATION WE ALSO RECOGNIZE THAT IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO LEGISLATE THE SECURITY CULTURE THAT IS NEEDED IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

THE COMPUTER SECURITY ACT REQUIRED AGENCIES TO FORM SECURITY PLANS AND PROVIDE MANDATORY SECURITY TRAINING. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET CIRCULAR A-130 INCLUDES SECURITY GUIDELINES AND THE WHITE HOUSE HAS ISSUED SPECIFIC GUIDANCE ON WEB-SITE MAINTENANCE. DESPITE THESE EFFORTS THE BREAK-INS CONTINUE.

WE HAVE NOTED BEFORE AND CONTINUE TO BACK THE NEED FOR HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL SUPPORT IN ADDITION TO NEW LAWS TO PUT SOME MUSCLE BEHIND EFFORTS TO GUARD FEDERAL SYSTEMS FROM ATTACK.

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