GAO: FDIC needs stronger security controls

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation needs to strengthen its configuration management and access controls to avoid risk to some of its financial systems, the Government Accountability Office has said in a report. Meanwhile, the FDIC has corrected most other existing information security weaknesses, according to the report.

A key reason for the latest weaknesses the auditors found is that the FDIC did not always fully implement critical information security program activities, GAO said.

For example, multiple FDIC users shared the same login ID and password, had unrestricted access to application source code and used a password that was not adequately encrypted. The FDIC also did not fully test configuration controls, GAO reported,

Until the FDIC fully performs key information security program activities, GAO said there is an increased risk that it may not be able to maintain sufficient control over its financial systems and information.

“Although FDIC has made significant progress improving its information system controls, old and new weaknesses could limit the corporation’s ability to effectively protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of its financial systems and information,” said Gregory Wilshusen, director of GAO’s information security issues.

GAO recommended that the FDIC improve:

•Access controls by not sharing login ID and password accounts, limit access to application source code and encrypt the database connection with strong passwords.
 
•Configuration management by developing and implementing requirement baselines, assure that configuration items have unique identifiers; and configuration changes are properly authorized, documented and reported.

•Security management by making sure that users adequately test configuration controls as part of the system test and evaluation process.
 
•The corporation's security comprehensive plan with actions and milestones that will include deciding who is responsible for the corrective action, status of the action and when the action will be closed.

The FDIC is taking action to improve configuration management and overall security management, said Steven App, the corporation's chief financial officer.
Most corrective actions will be completed by December 31, he said.

Meanwhile, GAO also reported that the FDIC has fixed or made significant progress on 16 of the 21 security weaknesses the GAO's auditors reported last year.

The corporation has improved physical security controls over access to one of its computer processing facilities, and has instructed personnel to use more secure e-mail methods to protect the integrity of accounting data transferred over an internal communication network, GAO said.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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