Security policies fall short
- By Diane Frank
- Jul 12, 2000
Federal agencies are failing to follow the policies to ensure that changes
in their software and systems do not open security vulnerabilities, the
General Accounting Office told agency officials last month.
In letters to 16 federal chief information officers, GAO officials warned
that "without proper software change controls, there are risks that security
features could be inadvertently or deliberately omitted or rendered inoperable,
processing irregularities could occur, or malicious code could be introduced."
GAO found varying types of policies within each agency, and it often
found no departmentwide policy or oversight. Most agencies are at some stage
of working to develop the appropriate practices based on the Carnegie Mellon
University Software Engineering Institute's Capability Maturity Model, according
to the letters.
But other agencies have not yet taken such steps, including officials
at the FBI who "took issue with the need for a formally documented component-level
change control process," wrote David McClure, associate director of governmentwide
and defense information systems at GAO.
GAO performed the review of the software change controls at the 16 agencies
at the request of Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Government
Reform Committee's Government Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee.
Horn and other members of the subcommittee had expressed concern about the
possible security vulnerabilities introduced by contractors during Year
2000 remediation projects.