Hacking away at Energy

Even after almost 200 hacks of its systems in 2003, the Energy Department still has some holes in its cyberdefense, according to an inspector general's report released this week.

In response to cybersecurity weaknesses that resulted in 199 intrusions last year, Energy officials say they're taking several measures to protect the department's systems. But they continue to have difficulty finding, tracking and fixing previously reported cybersecurity weaknesses quickly, the inspector said in a report, "The Department's Unclassified Cyber Security Program -- 2004."

The report praised improvements, but highlighted omissions in cyberdefenses, such as:

Incomplete certification and accreditation of major systems.

Missing contingency plans for restoring systems after an emergency.

Continuing problems with access control, segregation of responsibilities for financial processing and correction of known security vulnerabilities. Energy officials say the problems will be rectified within the coming year.

"The department has taken a broad-based approach to making its systems and data as secure as possible," department spokesman Mike Waldron said. "In doing so, 90 percent of our systems were certified and accredited this year. Our goal is to have the remaining 10 percent certified next year." Energy officials recently formed an integrated project team.

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