Census tests security
- By Judi Hasson
- Mar 26, 2000
The Census Bureau has hired a company to try to break into its Internet
site and brought in the super-secret National Security Agency to test Census
Census officials said they are certain the data is safe but want to make
sure there are no vulnerable spots.
"Every day, people are scanning our ports. It's not just our site. It's
any site, said J. Gary Doyle, who is responsible for systems integration
at the Census Bureau.
Among the steps that the Census Bureau has taken to protect the decennial
* Hiring the technology firm Science Applications International Corp. to
try to break into the Census' Internet site, where respondents can file
online. SAIC began working last week, and there have been no reports of
successful entry into the site.
* Enlisting NSA to make sure the site is secure.
* Erecting firewalls to prevent penetration. Among the precautions: prohibiting
e-mail from entering the site unless there is a specific address on it and
barring outside computers from dialing up the census computer in the building.
* Encrypting all census data from the time it leaves a data scanning center
via a secure telephone line until it arrives at the Census computer center
in Bowie, Md.
* Making three copies of the data and storing it in different vaults.
* Providing backup systems at the Bowie computer center, including generators
and air conditioners.
The Census Bureau's precautions have gotten high marks from security experts
inside and outside government
"Census is using all of the proper security practices," said Richard Smith,
vice president of federal operations at Internet Security Systems Inc. "I
would guess the likelihood of someone getting in is small."