FBI doing security review

The FBI is conducting an overview of its computer security policies and practices in the wake of spying accusations against Robert Hanssen, according to a senior FBI information technology official.

The FBI is conducting a review of its security practices in parallel to the one being conducted by former FBI Director William Webster, said Mark Tanner, the FBI's information resources manager.

Although there is no indication that Hanssen took advantages of holes in IT security policies or procedures, the review is part of an overall effort to enhance security at the bureau, Tanner said Thursday at Federal Sources Inc.'s annual Outlook conference.

"We just want to make sure that we don't have vulnerabilities that we really cannot afford to have exploited," he said.

Hanssen, 56, a veteran FBI counterintelligence agent, was arrested in February. He is accused of spying for the Russians for 15 years. FBI Director Louis Freeh has appointed Webster to lead a commission that will make recommendations about what steps the FBI should take to prevent similar incidents.

The case presents a good opportunity to review security policies, procedures and practices. Tanner noted that Hanssen had a high degree of access to FBI systems because he had a high-level clearance.

FBI will likely implement new tools to improve internal security, Tanner said. Funds for those efforts are not included in the fiscal 2002 budget, he noted.

Tanner made his comments before the Justice Department announced it had failed to account for more than 3,000 documents related to the Oklahoma City bombing. Published reports have blamed the FBI's antiquated computer systems.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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