USAJobs clears security hurdle

Despite a rocky launch last year, the federal government’s one-stop employment website is recently getting at least one high-five.

The Office of Personnel Management unveiled its much-anticipated USAJobs 3.0 in October 2011, but the kickoff left much to be desired. Users were soon complaining about not being able to search or even access the website, something OPM blamed on high-volume web traffic.

Many of the issues were resolved after OPM added more servers and staff as well as addressed the multiple software problems that marred the website. Now, closing in on its first anniversary, the job site seems to have cleared another hurdle: the security test.

An audit released July 26 by the Office of the Inspector General showed USAJobs "was found to be in good security standing and does not appear to pose any significant risk to OPM or its constituents.”

While the audit didn’t uncover any critical flaws that needed immediate attention, each assessment phase had issues of the medium to low informational severity ranking. Low-severity-rated flaws were found to make up nearly half of the adverse findings.

“Throughout the testing, it became obvious that there were some security weaknesses, but nothing that put the USAJobs environment at immediate risk,” the report stated. “Many of the findings are similar to those found in other organizations facing similar operational challenges.

However, the audit did uncover three vulnerabilities that could warrant a high-severity vulnerability rating. Of these three, two dealt with the problem of improper input validation. The third related to parameter-based redirection, in which an adversary could use a phishing attack to trick a user to follow a certain URL to another website in an attempt to steal his or her credentials. However, OPM had already dealt with them, the auditors noted, along with many of the lesser concerns and specific audit recommendations.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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