Shortcomings plague State's IT security

Semiannual Report to the Congress (.pdf)

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Despite some improvements, the State Department still falls short in its information security efforts, according to a new report from Inspector General Howard Krongard.

Nearly half of the 34 departmental posts and bureaus audited by the inspector general from April to September 2006 displayed shortcomings in information technology security, according to the report. These shortcomings were apparent in classified data being stored in unclassified systems, inadequate separation of duties among IT employees and missing or inadequate documentation on security settings used to protect data.

Despite progress in addressing privacy and in reporting computer hacking incidents, the department also shows inadequacies in its Federal Information Security Management Act compliance and documentation.

Problematic areas include planning and management, separation of duties of IT staff, service continuity, managing change of hardware and software, and maintaining access controls. Documents were lacking for contingency planning, standard operating procedures and security. The report also cited inconsistent training and lack of coordinated service to end users.

For the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which operates the Voice of America, Krongard cited an “ambiguous” chain of command for the chief information officer, which hampers the CIO’s authority to identify and correct IT security problems.

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

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